SC censures broadcast media
Supreme Court Thursday observed that instead of promoting the teachings of Islam and observing the existing laws, the national media created chaos and failed to play responsible role in Islamabad sit-in. Resuming the hearing of suo motu over weeks long sit-in at Faizabad Interchange by a religious group, a two-member bench led by Justice Mushir Alam said that the injunctions of Islam don’t allow hooliganism, killings and destruction of properties but media failed to talk about Islam and Pakistan throughout the sit-in and created chaos.
The bench also expressed its dismay over performance of civil and military spy agencies in handling the Islamabad sit-in, saying army and executive are part of the government, so the military should not be treated as a separate organization or maligned. During the course of proceedings, the other member of the bench Justice Qazi Faiz Isa said that nobody including him is above the law because everyone is being paid salaries from the tax money collected from the poor people who form the silent majority.
Justice Qazi Faiz Isa said while addressing Deputy Attorney General for Pakistan Sohail Mehmood, “Right things should be disseminated on television channels.” He added the court doesn’t like to stop the transmission but it should be kept in mind that the court can go after media houses by knowing their sources of income and investigating ownership.
Justice Qazi plainly said that media failed to highlight the teachings of Islam and show responsibility in accordance with law. He underscored the need for sending copies of the Holy Quran and country’s Constitution to 89 electronic media houses in order to make them realize that Pakistan is a blessed country. Justice Qazi Faez Isa repeatedly said that electronic media is not above the law. He accused it of creating chaos over issues just for the sake of rating, adding that freedom of press has its limits as well.
The bench warned national media to adhere to Constitution and laws while telecasting talk shows and restrain from speeches that cause hate, violence and sectarian unrest in the country; otherwise, the court will summon the owners of private TV channels.
After examining the reports of civil and military spy agencies, submitted in pursuance of the court’s earlier directives, the bench showed dissatisfaction, asking as to why the Inter-Service Intelligence is quiet over the matter. Justice Mushir Alam questioned who provided ammunition and explosives to protesters, adding how it was possible that protesters entered Islamabad with firearms. He said if the federal capital of the country is not safe then how it would be possible to keep the rest of the country secure.
Sohail Mehmood said he cannot take responsibility of some reports which are not signed by anyone and were faxed to his office, adding the national kitty faced a loss of Rs 146 million during the sit-in. The bench directed Sohail Mehmood to inform the media houses to file their response if they disagree to the observations of the court in the matter in hand.
The bench observed that the court will resume the case once Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf returns from abroad. Later, the hearing was adjourned till date in office.