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March 4, 2021

Justice Isa case: SC issues notice to federal govt on live broadcast

Top Story

March 4, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that it will oppose the live broadcast of review petition filed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa against the apex court’s judgment of June 19, 2020 to the extent of directions given to the Federal Board of Revenue after the full court quashed the Presidential Reference filed against the judge.

A 10-member larger bench, headed by Justice Umer Ata Bandial, heard the application in the review petition filed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa seeking live broadcast of the proceedings.

Other members of the bench include Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Amin Uddin Khan.

During the course of hearing, Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman told the court that they will oppose the plea of Justice Qazi Faez Isa seeking live broadcast of proceedings of his review petition. The court issued notices to the Federation on the review petition of Justice Qazi Faez Isa as well as on his plea seeking live telecast of the proceedings of his review petition.

The court directed the Additional Attorney General to submit his reply by Monday March 8 on the plea of live broadcast besides directing him to go through the Indian Supreme Court judgment, cited by Justice Isa during his course of arguments, and adjourned the hearing.

Earlier, continuing his arguments, Justice Qazi Faez Isa referred to the court’s observation of the other day that the matter of live coverage was not judicial but administrative and policy-related. He cited the Article 191 of the Constitution and said that subject to the Constitution and law, the Supreme Court may make rules regulating the practice and procedure of the court. “This institution is created, empowered and constrained by the Constitution”, Justice Isa said

Justice Umer Ata Bandial observed that it was an administrative and policy matter and it was for the full court to determine and we need to move with Justice Isa’s application.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar, another member of the bench, asked Justice Isa as to whether he will participate in the full court if an agenda was put before it regarding live broadcast of the court’s proceedings. Justice Isa replied that if he was sent the agenda, he will decide as to whether he should participate or not.

Justice Isa, while advancing his arguments on the benefits of live broadcast of court’s proceedings, stressed on dispensation of justice and said that justice is not only done but seems to be done. He said that he asked a little girl as to how justice seems to be done, the girl replied that one can either go to the court or watch it on TV.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar asked in the past when there was no television or live broadcast facility available, then justice was not done? When Justice Isa was not replying and arguing, Justice Umer Ata Bandial asked Justice Isa “Listen to the judge’s question”.

“I don’t have an answer”, Justice Isa replied. “But you are here to assist us,” Justice Muneeb Akhtar told Justice Isa. “Please proceed with the case and it was not good talking like this,” Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik told Justice Isa. Justice Qazi Faez Isa, while arguing on the significance and benefits of live broadcast of court proceedings, informed the court that he had heard the full live coverage of Brexit in his chamber

Justice Qazi Faez Isa said that in the United States, the constitution is taught in the first grade. When a a child goes to college or university, the constitution has become a part of his life, but in our country, the constitution is taught in law colleges or universities.

“We have heard your argument about American schools, now please open your case,” Justice Bandial asked Justice Isa.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, another member of the bench, observed that dispensation of justice had been improved due to science and technology.

“The latest technology of DNA is one of the examples and even we have overturned many convictions with the help of DNA,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah remarked.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa then cited the judgment of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto PLD 1979 SC. He said that the instant judgment was one of the most controversial judgments in the legal history of Pakistan. Justice Isa said that Justice Nassem Hassan Shah, who was one of the seven members of the said bench, later wrote in his book and in an interview with a journalist admitted that there was the military government’s pressure on the bench. Justice Muneeb Akhtar asked whether the Zulfikar Ali Bhutto case was appealed in open court. “I don’t know”, Justice Isa replied

Justice Isa said that people from far-flung areas like Tharparkar and Gwadar cannot come to witness the proceedings of the case but live broadcast of the court proceedings will enable them as to what was actually happening in courts. Justice Muneeb Akhtar observed that open court proceedings do not mean summoning the entire nation, only audio is recorded in the US court.

Justice Isa said that people can only watch on TV Wakula Gardi but don’t know what is going on in the court’s proceedings.

“I ask you with most respect please, take a sip of water and I am telling you with respect that you are not a counsel here but arguing as a judge,” Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik told Justice Isa. “You also have to sit here where we are sitting at the moment, so be careful as tomorrow, lawyers will be quoting your arguments so please consider my humble request”, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik added. “You are my elder brother and I consider you as my teacher in criminal cases,” Justice Isa replied.

Justice Isa submitted that the live coverage of court proceeding will not benefit him but the people of Pakistan. He said that live broadcast of court proceedings will expose some bad lawyers who do not come prepared. He further submitted that live broadcast of the court proceedings will give the public access to the truth.

Justice Isa cited the Indian Supreme Court judgment on live broadcast of court’s proceedings. He also referred to the International Press Freedom Statistics adding that Pakistan was currently ranked 147th out of 180 countries in the world in terms of press freedom. “I bowed my head in shame today after seeing Pakistan’s statistics on press freedom,” he said.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa said that his wife had written a letter to the Registrar of the Supreme court, requesting that a recording of the conversation be provided through video link, but she was told that the record was not available.

Meanwhile, the court issued a notice to the Federation and directed Additional Attorney General to submit reply on the plea of live broadcast of the review petition and adjourned the hearing till March 8.