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SC ‘holds in abeyance’ Justice Isa’s suo moto notice

August 24, 2021
SC ‘holds in abeyance’ Justice Isa’s suo moto notice

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday ‘held in abeyance’ the order, passed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa on an application regarding harassment of journalists, and observed that the manner in which the suo moto jurisdiction was exercised on August 20 was contrary to the procedure of the apex court.

A five-member larger SC bench, headed by acting chief justice Umer Ata Bandial, heard a matter pertaining to the invocation of suo moto jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

Other members of the bench included Justice Ijazul Ahsen, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar. The court held in abeyance the order passed on August 20 by a two-member bench comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel on an application regarding harassment of journalists.

The court held that the issue of harassment of journalists was very sensitive and should be taken into account, but it is painful that the applicants did not trust the judiciary as an institution.

The court held that it would examine as to whether apart from chief justice, the suo moto jurisdiction can be exercised by other judges. The court observed that traditionally any bench can recommend to the CJ any matter of public importance and for invoking suo moto jurisdiction.

The court issued notices to Attorney General (AG), President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) as well as Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) to assist it on this important issue regarding invocation of suo moto jurisdiction.

The court observed that the order passed by the two-member bench on the application was not pending before the court, adding that the court had ordered for fixing the matter before the same bench on August 26.

The court observed that the said bench would not be available on Aug 26. The court held that the directives issued by the two-member bench would remain intact and the respondents could submit their replies pertaining to harassment of journalists.

“Right now, the court is not taking the pertinent questions, raised by the journalists in their application and the real issue right now is invocation of suo moto jurisdiction,” the court held. The court observed that till the constitution of new bench, the matter regarding harassment of journalists would remain anfractuous.

The matter regarding the determination of suo moto jurisdiction would be again be taken up on Wednesday, August 25,” the court held, adding that it was an interim order and final 0order would be issued later on.

The court held that normally benches recommend to the chief justice of Pakistan for suo moto action, but in this case, the two-member bench directly received the application and took suo moto notice.

Similarly, the court, in its order, noted that the chief justice constitutes a bench; however, the two-member bench had ordered to fix the matter before it on Aug 26, which was not available during the current week.

“We want to proceed with the matter regarding the issue of journalists in a transparent manner,” the court noted, adding that it invoked the suo moto jurisdiction and provision of justice through a system. The court noted that the Registrar office intimated to the acting chief justice in writing about the order, passed by the two-member bench on August 20, with a note that the manner in which the suo moto was taken was not in accordance with the court procedure.

Earlier, during the course of the proceedings, an interesting conversation between President Supreme Court Bar Association Abdul Latif Afridi and Justice Umer Ata Bandial took place. Afridi said that lawyers feel that there was a division in the apex court, adding that he wanted a united Supreme Court.

Justice Bandial, however, observed that there might be difference of opinion among the judges of the apex court, but there were no differences. "But for your satisfaction, we will sit together,” Justice Bandial replied to Latif Afridi.

Latif Afridi also requested the court to constitute a full court to hear the important matter; however, Justice Bandial said it would not be possible as all judges were not available during the current week.

On Aug 20, a two-member SC bench had summoned DG FIA over his department allegedly harassing the media persons. The court had also summoned Inspector General of Police Islamabad and Secretary Ministry of Interior in-person along with reports, besides issuing notices to journalist organisations including Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors, Pakistan Broadcasters Association as well as Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).