Journalists Facing Probe For Smear Campaign Against Judges Get ‘Reprieve’ For Elections | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Journalists Facing Probe For Smear Campaign Against Judges Get ‘Reprieve’ For Elections

Pakistan Press Foundation

The government on Tuesday assured that no action would be taken against journalists summoned for their alleged role in smear campaigns against judges of the Supreme Court until the February 8 general elections are over.

Attorney General Mansoor Usman Awan assured the Supreme Court on Tuesday. After the assurance, the top court adjourned further hearings of the 2021 suo motu case regarding harassment of journalists by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) until the first week of March 2024. The top court, however, sought a report by investigators who had probed the attack on journalist and former Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Chairman Absar Alam.

These directions were issued by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali, which resumed hearing of the suo moto case from 2021 regarding the harassment of journalists. The court is simultaneously also hearing the matter of summons recently issued by the FIA, which is part of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing smear campaigns against judges of the top court and other state institutions. 

During Tuesday’s hearing, the attorney general and the president of the Press Association of Supreme Court (PAS) appeared before the court. Chief Justice Isa asked whether a petition has been filed regarding the recent notices issued to journalists by the FIA. PAS President Aqeel Afzal informed the bench that the petition could not be filed because the FIA has yet to provide them with a consolidated list of individuals who have been issued summons. 

At this, Chief Justice Isa remarked that the bench had not issued any order because there was no written submission before the bench, which necessitated action.

“The court cannot issue any order until the matter is heard in the judges’ committee,” remarked the chief justice, pointing to the new system whereby cases about fundamental rights under Article 184(3) will be affixed for hearing after being reviewed by a three-member committee of judges comprising the three senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. 

Source: The Friday Times

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