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Sunday July 21, 2024

CJP expresses anger over false reporting on social media

He made the observation while hearing a suo-moto case about harassment of journalists on Tuesday

By Our Correspondent
April 03, 2024
Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa. — SC website/File
Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa. — SC website/File

ISLAMABAD: Expressing anger over the spread of false news on social media about judiciary, Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa has observed that dollars were earned by making false comments.

He made the observation while hearing a suo-moto case about harassment of journalists on Tuesday.

The case was heard by a three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Musarat Hilali and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

During the course of hearing, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa remarked that the matter had been settled to the extent of harassment of journalists, but a detailed decision was necessary to see the freedom of expression.

Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa observed that one of the members of the present bench did not hear the matter from beginning, hence it will have to be heard afresh, so the case will be fixed for hearing on the availability of the previous bench.

During the course of hearing, the court objected to the absence of petitioners’ counsel in the media regulation application and summoned the petitioners in-person on the next hearing.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad Police submitted a progress report in the case of harassment of journalists.

The court ordered that the report compiled by the Rawalpindi Union of Journalists (RUJ) in the abduction matter of journalist Matiullah Jan be placed on record, and copies of the report to be provided to the parties in the case.

During the hearing, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa expressed concern over the spread of false news related to the judiciary and observed that professional journalism tends to report the news after verification, but fake news is circulated on social media for more likes.

“The more lies are told, the more will be sold in the market,” the CJP remarked adding that if they call someone to contempt of court on false news, the trade unions will stand with them.

The Chief Justice inquired about lawyer Haider Waheed who filed a miscellaneous request to withdraw the petition.

The Chief Justice asked Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed, counsel for Press Association of the Supreme Court, as to what was the purpose of this petition. The CJP said that the lawyer did not even appear and questioned as to whether the court was used?

Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed submitted that the petition was filed over further restrictions on the media.

However, Attorney General Mansoor Usman Awan, on the court’s query, submitted that he did not agree with the position of the federal government in the miscellaneous application adding that it was an abuse of process.

The Chief Justice inquired whether such requests ensure the independence of the judiciary or reduce it. Why not call all petitioners on notice of this petition, the CJP questioned. At which, the attorney general agreed on serving a notice on the petitioners.

Barrister Salahuddin told the court that public interest petitions could not be withdrawn at the will of the petitioner, adding that the petition of Riaz Hanif Rahi regarding the extension of army chief was also not allowed to be withdrawn.

Addressing the Attorney General, the Chief Justice said, “If I call a case open and shut, it is the Matiullah Jan’s case.

“You have the video of this incident, but still the kidnappers could not be traced,” the CJP remarked.

The Chief Justice gave a reference of wrong news about his wife, saying, “It was reported my wife was sitting with me in the full court meeting.” The Chief Justice said that the reputation of the judiciary will be destroyed by such news and asked as to whether money is being earned from more retweets and likes.

Addressing the counsel of Press Association, the CJP questioned, “If a journalist is found to be lying, will they terminate his membership?”

Barrister Salahuddin replied that the membership of the journalist could be terminated after giving the journalist a show cause notice. The Chief Justice observed that dollars are earned by making false comments and asked if the court should send them to jail who spread lies.

The Chief Justice further asked if a journalist is proven to have filed false news report, what action is taken against him.

Salahuddin Ahmed replied that the law of defamation in UK was very strong, adding that Pakistani news channels in UK could not continue broadcasting due to heavy fines. The Chief Justice observed that societies make progress when institutions have mechanism of internal accountability. Later, the court adjourned the hearing for date-in-office (indefinite period).