Harassment of journalists. SCP rejects Police & FIA replies CJP Qazi Faez Isa expresses serious displeasure at Islamabad IG Dr. Akbar Nasir Khan & FIA officials

Supreme Court rejects the replies submitted by Islamabad police & FIA regarding the attacks & harassment of journalists

CJP Qazi Faez Isa expresses serious displeasure at Islamabad IG Dr. Akbar Nasir Khan & FIA officials

ISLAMABAD  (  Web News  )

Supreme Court of Pakistan has rejected the replies submitted by Islamabad police and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) regarding the attacks and harassment of journalists. The court has directed both institutions to submit fresh reply in next 14 days. The court has adjourned the further hearing of the case till 25th March.

Meanwhile Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Qazi Faez Isa expressed serious displeasure at Islamabad IG Dr. Akbar Nasir Khan and FIA officials as the apex court heard the matter concerning the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) harassment of journalists accused of an anti-judiciary campaign.

Irked over the police’s failure to arrest individuals involved in the abduction of journalist Matiullah Jan in 2020, the CJP while addressing Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan said, “A crime was recorded on camera, but you could not trace those responsible for it?”

“Mr AGP, what kind of an IG is this? He should be removed,” CJP Isa asserted. The chief justice asked the Islamabad IG how much more time was needed to arrest the abductors if four years were not enough. “Do you need three centuries?” he asked, warning the IG that the whole country had its eyes on his performance.

“It appears from your performance that you are playing the role of a facilitator. Shoot one journalist, torture another while entering his house, or kidnap another,” the CJP stated, criticising how cameras installed under the Safe City project also stop working during such incidents.

Press Association of Supreme Court’s counsel Barrister Syed Salahuddin Ahmed informed the SC that journalist Asad Ali Toor was currently in jail with an FIR lodged against him.

The chief justice asked the FIA ​​officer how the provisions under which Asad Toor was booked were justified. “Does the FIA have any well-educated individual within its ranks?”, the CJP asked, suggesting the institution get someone to translate the law in Urdu otherwise.

“Did we [the judiciary] complain to you against any journalist? Did you issue notices to journalists in our names? Are you using us to get your work done?” the chief justice asked.

Journalist Asad Toor has been booked under some serious provisions, he said. “How do the provisions, including those about sensitive information, apply here?” CJP Isa further asked, taking the FIA officer to task over not even mentioning the anti-judiciary campaign in the FIR when the summons issued to Toor were regarding running a campaign against the judiciary. “You have used the judiciary to get your work done,” the chief justice asserted.

Barrister Salahuddin informed the court that the JIT to probe the allegations against the journalists was formed before the registration of the cases. He prayed to the court to declare the JIT notification null and void.

The chief justice then inquired why an officer from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was part of the JIT, as the intelligence agency is not a law enforcement agency and it is also not the jurisdiction of the agency.

Barrister Salahuddin further argued that the FIA cannot take action against the journalists under PECA Act 2016, as only Section 20 of the act deals with such allegations, however, the complainant in such cases should be a ‘natural person’.

The AGP also agreed with the barrister’s arguments and concurred that certain sections of PECA did not apply to the FIR.

The allegations levelled by former commissioner Rawalpindi Liaquat Ali Chattha on February 17 regarding the election commission and CJP colluding to rig February 8 general elections also came under discussion during the hearing.

CJP Isa stated that a commissioner accused him of manipulating the elections and the statement was broadcast by all the TV channels without any verification. He added that it is common practice globally that a news piece is first verified before being aired. “No journalist asked the accuser what proof he had. Does this happen anywhere in the world?” the CJP asked. “However, should the judiciary have issued notices to all the TV channels?” he rhetorically asked.

He again warned the investigative agency to not “use” the judiciary. “A person threatened to kill me, but the SHO sat on the application for five days. I was then told that I will be informed of the progress on the matter after instructions are taken from the minister,” the CJP said, further adding that a false report was submitted in the SC in the Matiullah Jan abduction case. “Are the number plates of vehicles in which the kidnappers come not visible?” CJP Isa asked.

Barrister Salahuddin then argued that the FIA initiated 115 inquiries and issued 65 notices. “Laws for defamation and contempt of court are in place and if the FIA takes over the rights of the judiciary, they will be misused.”

Rejecting the reports submitted in the case by the FIA and the police, the apex court instructed both to submit detailed reports on the matter and adjourned the hearing till March 25.