News

SC adjourns hearing of journalists’ harassment case until March’s first week  

AGP assures court no action against journalists before elections

By News Desk

January 30, 2024 12:23 PM


 

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of the harassment of journalists case until the first week of March, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Qazi Faez Isa, heard the case.

Other members on the bench are Justice Mussarat Halali and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar.

The SC also sought a report on the attack carried out on journalist Absar Alam.

The attorney general of Pakistan (AGP), on the other hand, told the apex court that presently the investigation was in its initial stages and that no action would be taken against the journalists before the general elections, which are scheduled to be held on February 8.  

During the hearing, the CJP asked on what basis he could order withdrawal of the notices issued to journalists by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). “In this regard, nobody has filed a written application in the court yet,” he said, adding, “Let journalists file an application and a committee of judges will review it.”

Speaking on the occasion, journalist Matiullah Jan said that the purpose of harassing journalists was to gag media. “I pray to the court to fix the case’s hearing after the elections.”

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Shahzad Shaukat said there was no check on the views expressed on social media. “Positive criticism is welcome. But the practice of levelling baseless allegations cannot be condoned,” he added.

The chief justice remarked that a man felt relieved after speaking the truth. “But it is unfortunate that the people no more tell the truth,” he opined.    

Another journalist Afzal Butt was of the view that the FIA had failed to draw a line between criticism and trolling. “Trolling is no doubt a crime. And we all are against it,” he said, and added, “But sadly all this is happening to stifle dissent.”

Justice Isa said it appeared that the petitioners were not aware of what type of atrocities journalists had to go through in the past. “They have gone to jails and have even been lashed for speaking their mind. But only the issuance of notices have disturbed your peace of mind,” he said, adding, “Even we were issued notices. But we did not approach any court for a ‘stay’.”

Butt reminded the CJP that when notice had been issued to him, he had filed a petition in the court against it.

The chief justice made it clear that the apex court judges did not feel offended by criticism.  

Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar said there was no law to regulate social media.

 

Reporter: Amanat Gishkori


News Desk


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