Govt told to explain if journalists can keep their sources secret
Karachi: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the federal law officer on Thursday to ascertain whether a law allowing journalists not to disclose their sources of information existed.
The directive came during a hearing on a petition of Beena Khalid, who accused law enforcement agencies of picking up her husband, Khalid Shahmim, 37, an employee of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), from the Karachi airport on January 6, 2011 and keeping him in wrongful confinement since.
She cited media reports stating that her spouse was taken into custody in August 2011 on suspicion of his involvement in the murder of Dr Imran Farooq, a senior leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, in London.
At a previous hearing, the high court had observed that media reports suggested that Shamim was detained by law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in connection with Farooq’s murder case, but the journalist who had filed the story refused to reveal his source on the grounds of journalistic ethics.
The court had called assistance from the senior counsel to determine if journalists could refuse to disclose his sources of information under any code of ethics when it related to the liberty of the citizen guaranteed under the constitution.
The counsel for journalist bodies, Rasheed A Razvi, said the Journalist Protection and Welfare Bill 2011 had been placed in the Senate and Section 3 of the bill provided that no journalist would be compelled to disclose his source of information, and if necessary for the security of the country only the Supreme Court could require such a disclosure but it would not make it public.
He submitted that under the bill, if passed by parliament, this exercise would be nothing but futile. He requested the deputy attorney general to find out whether the bill had been passed or not.