SC rejects reports of ISI, ECP, Pemra on sit-in
ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the reports of Inter-Services Intelligence, Election Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority regarding the last year’s Faizabad sit-in by Tehreek-Labaik Ya Rassul Allah.The top court directed them to file fresh reports after removing discrepancies highlighted by the court.
Discontented with the cold response by authorities for not assisting the court to reach at logical conclusion in a suo motu case regarding Faizabad sit-in, Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, member of the two-judge bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam, questioned if the country has to be governed with tight rope of law or through street powers.
The bench hinted at setting parameters of protests and the role of authorities for the future. “We want to set parameters for the future,” Justice Isa observed. The bench also took exception to the failure of ISI for not providing tax details of leaders of TLYR, which is enlisted with the ECP under the name of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP).
The intelligence agency states that the details are with relevant department, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and that the agency has no such mandate which is required to collect such data.
Upon his, Justice Isa asked Director Legal Ministry of Defence Falak Naz that whether the ISI is governed by law or not.Justice Isa asked: “What’s its (ISI’s) mandate. Their job is to save Pakistan or they are doing any other job.”
Naz responded that the ISI is governed by the country’s law and further apprised the intelligence agency had played the role for ending the TLYR’s sit-in.Naz was confronted with another question when the bench asked him to specify the law like the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) operates under its own FIA Act 1974.
The bench remarked that should it summon the secretary defence or Director General ISI in this regard.The bench also remarked that police or Intelligence Bureau (IB) could be tasked with procuring financial details if ISI is unable to do so. The bench, however, allowed the ISI can also submit a classified report if it wants to.
Justice Isa further observed that peaceful protest is right of every citizen but violence will never be allowed, adding that we are begging all over the world and on the other side properties worth billions of rupees are being torched during the protest.
The bench also expressed its dismay on the kind of security provided to people. It is observed that schools are shut down whenever the issue of security arises.
“Is there any other country in the world where the schools’ walls are built 12ft high. We are sad that the country was shut for 22 days last year,” Justice Isa observed.
During the course of hearing, Justice Isa took hard-line on riot-like protests and observed that those staged sit-in in the name of rigging in May 2013 election should also apologise.
He asked did they (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) apologise to disrupt country’s affairs by holding a long protest at the Constitution Avenue, due to which the judges could not come to the Supreme Court.
“But later their allegations of rigging in 2013 general elections could not be proved before a high powered inquiry commission led by former chief justice Nasir ul Mulk,” Justice Isa remarked. “Did they apologise after the outcome of inquiry commission,” Justice Isa asked.
Justice Isa also made observations on May 12, 2007 incident, saying it was only the lawyers’ movement, which was peaceful but 50 people were killed on the roads in Karachi but nobody knows about their killers. “But we cannot talk about May 12, 2007 incident because a general (Pervez Musharraf) was ruling the country,” Justice Isa further said.
The bench also expressed anger on absence of Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor Khan and ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh during the hearing. Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sohail Mahmood told the bench that AGP is in Lahore Registry to appear in some cases.
Upon this, the bench remarked that they had given date of hearing on the desire of AGP. “What would be more important case other than this one, wherein Pakistan was shut down,” said Justice Isa, adding if the government does not intend to pursue this case then it should tell to bury it.
Chairman PEMRA also anguished the bench by not responding the court’s queries properly. The bench also asked him as to why the action has not been taken against those who stopped airing of TV channels in different areas of the countries.Chairman PEMRA Saleem Baig informed the bench that the order has been complied with as one TV channel withdrew its complaint about halting of its transmission.
“Here is chairman PEMRA who is openly lying before the apex court,” Justice Isa said while expressing his annoyance.
He questioned chairman as to whether the latter forced the TV channel to withdraw its complaint, adding those who burnt everything had been given coverage. The judge noted that one billion rupees is budget of PEMRA.
The bench has also expressed concern over the ECP Director Legal Muhammad Arshad contention that the law related to the regulation of political parties is just ‘cosmetic’ as the ECP has no power to take action against them in case of violation. “You are undermining your own institution (ECP) by giving this statement,” Justice Isa remarked and referring Article 218 of the constitution, adding the ECP is empowered to take action over any violation by a political party. The hearing of case is adjourned till Thursday.