Saturday December 04, 2021

Supreme Court takes notice of harassment of journalists

August 21, 2021
Supreme Court takes notice of harassment of journalists

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday took notice of harassment of journalists and summoned the interior secretary, FIA director-general and Islamabad IGP in person along with reports.

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, while hearing another matter, took up the issue when journalist Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui brought to the notice an application regarding the harassment of journalists. The court directed filing this petition which was later filed by petitioners Imran Shafqat and Aamir Mir along with the Press Association of Supreme Court (PAS).

The court held that the harassment of journalists and depriving them of performing professional obligation is a matter of public importance, as the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

Filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, the petitioners prayed the apex court to initiate action to ensure their fundamental rights and take action against all those who are violating them.

The court also summoned information and human rights secretaries along with reports besides issuing notices to journalist organizations. The court sought complete record of cases involving attacks on journalists as well as a progress report in this regard.

Similarly, the court also sought footage of the Safe City Project and the amount so far spent on the project besides seeking report from the information ministry regarding advertisements issued in one year and details of the beneficiaries. The court directed submission of written replies in all the matters by Aug 26.

The Federal Investigation Agency on Aug 6 had arrested journalists Amir Mir and Imran Shafqat in Lahore for their disrespectful attitude towards the Pakistan Army, judiciary and women.

In their petitions, Amir Mir and Imran Shafqat submitted that they are practicing journalists and journalism is their source of livelihood. They contended that most of journalists working in media, television and newspapers are sacked because they honestly report and these sackings take place at the behest of outsiders.

It is an open secret who they are, they said, adding that these outsiders do not write, lodge a formal complaint, they generally make one WhatsApp call and threaten the newspaper or television channel to get the desired results.

“Faced with these threats, the managements of the media houses where we worked were left with no option but to sack us”, they contended. “The situation has become so dire that departments and institutions of the state which are supposed to protect us are being used to lodge false cases against us.”

They submitted that the Federal Investigation Agency has resorted to lodging baseless and unfounded cases against reputable senior journalists. They contended that the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press but shadowy players and now state departments such as the FIA have rendered Article 19 of the Constitution meaningless.

The Constitution also guarantees the right to information in Article 19A. But rather than providing journalists access to information, they are not allowed to write, print or publish information that they have, they submitted.