PHC bans media interviews of suspected criminals in custody | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

PHC bans media interviews of suspected criminals in custody

Pakistan Press Foundation

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday temporarily banned interviews of suspected criminals in police’s custody by journalists and social media channels.

Justice Ijaz Anwar and Justice Syed M Attique Shah also directed the provincial inspector general of police to respond to a petition of lawyer Jabir Khan, who sought orders for the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to immediately ban the telecast of media interviews of crime suspectsduringtheir investigation.

The court directed the police not to allow media interviews of those suspects in custody until further orders.

The petitioner requested the court to direct the federal and provincial governments to act against media outlets, television channels, Facebook account holders and YouTubers telecasting and uploading the interviews of suspected outlaws during investigation and trial.

Seeks govt reply to petition on the issue

He also sought orders for the police to block the access of journalists, TV reporters, vloggers, YouTubers and Facebook activists to the police station and prisons for interviewing those suspects.

Senior lawyer Ziaur Rehman Tajik appeared for the petitioner and said such interviews should be declared unconstitutional and against fundamental rights and the dignity of man as well as the fair trial promised in Articles 10-A and 14 of the Constitution.

He contended that it had become a practice of journalists and members of media outlets, YouTube channels and vlogs that they interviewed suspected outlaws during investigation soon after their arrest in utter violation of Article 14 of the Constitution, which guaranteed the dignity of the man.

Mr Tajik said it was a violation of the Constitution by several electronic and social media outlets to telecast or upload interviews of suspected criminals online.

“Freedom of speech, press and expression is the fundamental right of every citizen as provided by Article 19 of the Constitution, but that right is also subject to reasonable restriction imposed by the law and that the integrity, decency and moral rights of an accused should not be violated,” he said.

The lawyer contended that such practices affected trials of the accused.

He argued that interviewing a suspected criminal in custody was not only against the laws of defamation and contempt of court but it also amounted to influencing the free and fair trial of an individual and impartial investigation, a violation of Article 10-A of the Constitution.

Justice Ijaz Anwar wondered what would be the people’s impression about the judiciary if a suspect admitted to committing a crime during a social media interview and got acquitted.

The bench observed that in the presence of media trials of the accused, trying the accused by the courts of law became needless.

Mr Tajik said TV channels, YouTubers and vloggers interviewed suspected criminals and tried to prove them guilty even before the conclusion of their trials by the courts.

The counsel said as the Pemra and police department had not been performing their respective duties in accordance with the law, media interviews of the accused in custody were on the rise.

The respondents in the petition are the federal government through the information secretary, Pemra through its chairman, and KP chief secretary, information secretary and police chief.

Source: Dawn

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