ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday formally summoned Agha Iftikharuddin Mirza for hurling abuses at Justice Qazi Faez Isa as well as the institution of judiciary.
A two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan had taken up a suo motu case about a video clip containing derogatory, contemptuous and scandalous language against the institution of judiciary and judges, which went viral on social media.
Mirza was present on the premises of the Supreme Court but did not turn up inside the Courtroom No. 1 where the case was taken up. The court issued notices to Mirza, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan and the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
Mirza however remained tight-lipped and avoided queries by journalists at the end of court proceedings, who were eager to know who had edited the video clip and made it viral on social media and at whose behest he had made contemptuous statements.
Mirza is being represented by Advocate Sarkar Abbas.
At the outset of the hearing when the court regretted the state of affairs, the AG assured the apex court that whatever had happened was not at all acceptable to the government.
Formal proceedings under the Prevention of Election Crimes Act 2016 as well as Section 500 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) had already commenced, the AG said, The government was also considering including Section 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 since Mirza had not only defamed a judge but also a former president, a former prime minister and two journalists, he added.
Section 6 of the ATA deals with the definition of terrorism by explaining that any threat if designed to coerce and intimidate or overawe government or public or a section of public or community or any threat for the purpose of advancing a religious, sectarian or ethnic cause, intimidating and terrorising public, social sectors, media persons, business fraternity is also an act of terrorism.
Section 500 of the PPC suggests punishment for defaming which may extend to two-year imprisonment with fine.
The chief justice however regretted that FIA had done nothing on the complaints earlier sent by some judges.
Justice Ahsan observed that the speaker in the video had committed offence under the PPC by naming institutions as well as individuals besides abusing judges in a derogatory manner.
But the FIA did not initiate any inquiry on its own, Justice Ahsan deplored, adding that the agency moved on the complaint by Sarina Isa — the wife of Justice Qazi Faez Isa – who had lodged a complaint at the Secretariat police station in Islamabad on June 24 alleging that death threats had been hurled at her husband.
Mirza’s counsel told the court that her client had been taken into custody by police at which the chief justice observed that there was no need to arrest him since the court had already issued a notice to him.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (SCBA) President Syed Qalbe Hassan has said that the substance of the video clip reveals that a desperate effort has been made to malign and slander dignity of the apex institution of the country and its honourable judges. In a statement issued on Friday, he demanded stern action against the culprits.
He called upon the institutions concerned to remove the video clip from social media immediately and take necessary steps for the safety and security of the judges and their families, as the right to life was the most fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution.
Justice Isa had faced a presidential reference on misconduct but a 10-judge full court of the Supreme Court on June 20 had quashed the reference though it asked the Federal Board of Revenue to continue with its proceedings over three offshore properties owned by the wife and children of the judge.
In the application, Sarina Isa alleged that Mirza had said that her husband should be shot publicly.
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2020