Hearing of revision pleas of French journalists adjourned till 8th
KARACHI:Jan.6: Justice Muhammad Sadiq Leghari of the Sindh High Court on Monday fixed January 8 for hearing arguments on a criminal revision application seeking return of the passports of two French journalists Jean-Paul Guilloteau and Joel Mark Epstein of a French weekly L’Express.
When their applications came up, their counsel Nafees Siddiqui argued that the Dec 24, order of the trial court for depositing the passports of the applicants was illegal ab initio and was without jurisdiction because the SHC, while granting bail to the accused, had not placed any restriction with regard to their passports. He argued the trial court, in fact, had sat in appeal over the SHC orders. The counsel argued the applicants’ visas were expiring on Jan 7 and if they were not returned passports their movement in Pakistan would become difficult, rather impossible.
Standing state counsel, Mehmood Alam Rizvi argued that at 11am the copies of the applications were supplied to him and he had to seek instructions from the government he was representing. As far as the maintainability of the revision, he submitted that the order of the trial judge regarding deposit of the passports of the applicants was legal and bonafide as per the circumstances of the case. He submitted that no application for return of the passports was filed before the trial court, hence the criminal revision was not maintainable.
It was argued on behalf of the federation that both the journalists are foreigners and there is very likelihood that they would abscond from the trial. Mehmood Rizvi advocate cited precedent set in the case against the crew of sunken Greek oil tanker, the MT Tasman Spirit, by the SHC. The SHC had turned down their request for return of their passports. Rizvi pointed out that in the order of the SHC, by which bail was granted to the applicant journalists, there was no mention about their passports, nor their counsel had touched this point at that time. He submitted the passports of the accused were case property hence could not be returned to the applicants till finalisation of the case. He, however, submitted that he would advance detailed arguments after receiving instructions from the government.
Nafees Siddiqui opposed the plea for adjournment and submitted that his clients were permitted by the registration officer to stay for one month and this period would expire on Jan7.
The judge, however, adjourned the matter till Jan 8 when further arguments on the maintainability of the pleas would be heard.
Source: The News