Pakistan Supreme Court Cites Manipulation in Media Freedom Petition

Pakistan's Supreme Court issues show-cause notices to three petitioners over a 2022 petition seeking media regulation, citing discrepancies in signatures and power of attorney. The court criticizes the counsel for filing bogus petitions and orders a thorough probe into attacks on journalists.

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Pakistan Supreme Court Cites Manipulation in Media Freedom Petition

Pakistan Supreme Court Cites Manipulation in Media Freedom Petition

The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued show-cause notices to three petitioners on Monday over a 2022 petition seeking, media, regulation, gets, notice. The petitioners claimed their names were misused and that they never consented to file the case, which sought a court directive for the government to implement a code of conduct prohibiting defamation of institutions and public servants.

Why this matters: The manipulation of the judicial system to restrict media freedom has far-reaching implications for democracy and the ability of citizens to hold those in power accountable. This development highlights the need for transparency and accountability in the legal system to ensure the protection of fundamental rights.

The petitioners included International Human Rights Movement's senior vice chairman Raja Sher Bilal, Wings College Chakwal principal Prof Abrar Ahmed, and District Bar Chakwal's ex-president Advocate Mohammad Asif. A three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, noted discrepancies in the signatures of litigants in the power of attorney submitted to the now-deceased advocate on record Ahmed Nawaz Chaudhry.

The court issued show-cause notices to former inspector general of police Syed Ibn Hussain from Lahore and ordered repeating the notices to former joint secretary Hassan Mehmood and Advocate Kosain Faisal, both from Islamabad. Chief Justice Isa questioned the motives of the counsel, Haider Waheed, stating, "Naturally, I will become alarmed to note if the petitioners are not from my area." The Chief Justice emphasized the need for transparency, asserting that "The judicial system could have been manipulated in the past, but no more now."

Counsel Haider Waheed denied instructing the late advocate on record or Rafaqat Ali and said he did not meet the petitioner, despite communicating with Kosain Faisal. Chief Justice Isa criticized the counsel for filing bogus petitions and not investigating who was behind the filing. Former Pemra chairman Absar Alam asked Haider Waheed to name the person who had paid him the legal fee for the petition.

The development comes amid concerns over Pakistan's deteriorating state of media freedom. The country ranked 152 out of 180 nations in the 2024 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders on May 3. Journalists' associations in Pakistan, including the Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors and the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors, have expressed concerns over the country's media freedom situation.

In a related matter, Islamabad Inspector General Syed Ali Nasir Rizvi informed the Supreme Court that he was not satisfied with the investigation into the cases of journalists Matiullah Jan, Absar Alam, and Asad Ali Toor. Rizvi stated that he would replace the investigator with a more competent officer to ensure a thorough probe into the attacks on these journalists.

Key Takeaways

  • Pakistan's Supreme Court issues show-cause notices to 3 petitioners over a 2022 petition seeking media regulation.
  • Petitioners claim their names were misused and they never consented to file the case.
  • Discrepancies found in signatures of litigants in the power of attorney submitted to the court.
  • Court emphasizes need for transparency, citing concerns over manipulation of the judicial system.
  • Development highlights Pakistan's deteriorating media freedom, ranking 152 out of 180 in the 2024 World Press Freedom Index.