Tuesday May 28, 2024

Institutions may have leaked judges’ confidential data: IHC

The high court had formed two separate benches on the issue on May 8

By Awais Yousafzai
May 15, 2024
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) building in Islamabad. — APP/File
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) building in Islamabad. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: As the Islamabad High Court (IHC) initiated contempt proceedings on a smear social media campaign against senior judges, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani remarked on Tuesday either the “state institutions might have leaked confidential data or their system was hacked”.

An IHC larger bench – led by Justice Kayani and comprising Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri and Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan — commenced contempt of court proceedings on smear social campaign media against Justice Babar Sattar.

The high court had formed two separate benches on the issue on May 8 after Justice Sattar and Justice Kayani wrote to IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, seeking contempt proceedings against those involved in leaking personal details and running malicious campaign on social media. Addressing the state counsel, Justice Kayani remarked that they were going to initiate a contempt of court proceeding in the case. He added that some X (formerly Twitter) accounts and a few hashtags were also part of the case which were used to upload data and run a smear drive.

“This is all being done to mount pressure on a judge [Justice Sattar], who is hearing a case,” remarked Justice Kayani. He added that it was a dangerous matter that confidential data of the jurist, his family and his children were made public, information which cannot be attained by anyone else. The head of the larger bench further remarked that state institutions might have been involved in leaking the confidential data, or their system was hacked. There was no rocket science to ascertain the source of data leak, he added. Justice Kayani said it would be very easy to tout “5th-generation warfare,” asking why only jurists of the country had to fall prey to it. He went on to say that facts would be determined about the “Pakistan Lawyers Forum” and from where its account was being operated.

The senior jurist remarked that the determination of actuality will stop all paths for any individual or an institution to get access to any of the jurists. However, no one has enough courage to get access to the judges, he added.

The senior judge then issued notices to attorney general office, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra). He remarked that the IHC would summon reports from all the institutions and it would also issue a notice to defence secretary.

Expressing outrage over the social media campaign against the country’s jurists, Justice Kayani remarked that such actions won’t be allowed on any medium of media — social, print or electronic — at any cost. He also warned that the scope of contempt of court proceedings would be expanded to “high office” if anyone attempted to approach the judges. Separately, another IHC’s larger bench — headed by CJ Justice Farooq — heard the contempt case on social media drive against Justice Kayani. The IHC chief justice issued notices to Waqas Malik Advocate, journalists Matiullah Jan and Talat Hussain. Subsequently, a notice was also served to the top electronic media authority. Additionally, the IHC has appointed senior anchorperson Hamid Mir, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) president, as well as lawyers Ahmed Hasan and Ahmer Bilal Advocate as amici curiae. The court ordered the Pemra to provide a transcript of the TV show aired on the matter. Later, the hearing was adjourned for two weeks.