ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Court is all set to commence hearing of review petitions in the Justice Qazi Faez Isa case from March 1, the judge on Thursday filed an application seeking a directive that the Pakistan Television Corporation be directed to broadcast live proceedings of the hearings.
A 10-judge bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Jusitce Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan will start hearing of a set of review petitions in the Justice Isa case.
In the application, Justice Isa pleaded that the apex court should order the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to issue written instructions to all private channels that they could not be restrained from broadcasting the court proceedings or live streaming of the proceedings.
Justice Isa said that the prayer had been made in the best interest of justice and that court proceedings were broadcast in a number of countries.
Argues it will correct public perception as a false propaganda campaign was launched against him
He regretted that immediately after the president sent the reference against him to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), its contents were broadcast on television and published in the newspapers besides an unrelenting false propaganda campaign was launched against him by accusing him of not complying with the Income Tax Ordinance 2001, not paying income tax, possessing unaccounted for wealth and buying properties abroad in the names of his wife and children.
As a judge of the Supreme Court, he pleaded that he was handicapped and unlike any other citizen could not hold a press conference to rebut or respond to the allegations. The official respondents with their iron grip on the media had also ensured that the contents of his filings were neither broadcast nor published, he added.
The tactics employed by the official respondents ensured that a negative public opinion was formed about him and his family, Justice Isa said.
He said he had expected that the SJC or the chief justice, who was the chairman of the council, would stop public humiliation of a brother judge but, much to his dismay, that did not happen and the council contributed to his defamation.
Whether he survived as a judge or not, his reputation had been tarnished by the actions of the official respondents and the SJC, Justice Isa argued. There were innumerable adverse and, at times, abusive comments, observations and tweets on the social media made on the assumption that the petitioner was dishonest and had accumulated ill-gotten wealth.
The petitioner alleged that the official respondents leaked the presidential reference to the media, spread falsehood and leaned on the media not to publish his replies and thus influenced public opinion.
According to Justice Isa, at this juncture the irreparable harm already caused to him cannot be undone, irrespective of the unanimous decision of this court and the decision to follow on the pending review petition(s).
However, to restore a semblance of balance and to correct the public perception… all future proceedings in the petitioner’s case may be directed to be broadcast live or live streamed.
Broadcasting or live streaming of court proceedings would be an affirmation of his fundamental and constitutional rights, he said.
Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2021