- Justice Siddiqui says media should not link petition against blasphemous content on social media with a pending case filed against him in SJC
ISLAMABAD: Hearing the petition seeking removal of blasphemous content from social media, a Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge on Monday dispelled the impression that the case in anyway was linked with a reference pending against him in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
He said he was ready to face an open trial even in the Gadaffi Stadium.
The stadium in Lahore recently hosted the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) and has the capacity of 27,000 spectators.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui offered his open trial after the petitioner’s counsel Tariq Asad said certain anchorpersons in some TV talk-shows were discussing the reference pending in the SJC and trying to connect it with the blasphemy case in the IHC.
Justice Siddiqui says media should not link petition against blasphemous content on social media with a pending case filed against him in SJC
Perhaps this is the first time a judge has offered his open trial. The SJC has always held closed-door proceedings since its establishment in 1962.
The council was established under Article 209 of the Constitution to inquire into allegations leveled against judges of the Supreme Court and high courts over misconduct or an inability to perform their duties for reasons of mental or physical incapacity.
Former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Anwar Zaheer Jamali in October last year dismissed a petition seeking publicising of the number of references filed against superior court judges. He ruled that the SJC proceedings were not in public domain.
The petition filed by Advocate Raheel Kamaran Sheikh argued that the SJC had been barely functional since its establishment. The petition conceded that though it may be in the public interest to withhold information about the nature of any particular complaint to avoid scandalising a judge, there was no justification for withholding information about the total number of complaints received by the council.
Recently, Advocate Sheikh wrote a letter to the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) asking it to demand reframing of the SJC’s inquiry procedure in view of the amendments made to Articles 209 to 211 of the Constitution through the 18th amendment to make the accountability forum of the superior court judges functional.
Addressing a ceremony in the IHC in October 2015, CJP Jamali disclosed that around 90pc of complaints filed against judges of the superior judiciary had become outdated.
On Monday, Justice Siddiqui cited the SJC proceedings after Advocate Asad alleged that some channels were criticising proceedings in the case and also discussing the conduct of the judge with particular reference to the SJC proceedings.
Justice Siddiqui said he had requested the SJC to conduct his open trial and examine all the allegations leveled against him in public.
“If my request is accepted, I would invite mediapersons to examine these allegations,” he said.
The judge said the proceedings in the blasphemy case should not be linked with the pending SJC reference as both were separate issues and had no link with each other.
According to Justice Siddiqui, such assertions would create a negative vibe against a sacred cause and the media should show responsibility while addressing sensitive issues. He said the chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) might be summoned to look into such matters.
He directed the secretary ministry of information and broadcasting to ensure mediapersons exercised freedom of information in accordance with the limits as incorporated in Article 19.
The court directed the secretary information to submit a compliance report on March 17 when the petition would be taken up again.
Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2017