Isa’s plea for live coverage sent to CJP

Published March 25, 2022
Supreme Court Jus­tice Qazi Faez Isa. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File
Supreme Court Jus­tice Qazi Faez Isa. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File

ISLAMABAD: Describing as “novel” an application by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, seeking the public broadcast and live court coverage of his review petition, Justice Munib Akhtar of the Supreme Court referred the matter to the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) for deliberation and appropriate action by a full court.

The matter was referred in view of the evolving practice of courts around the world and acknowledging the benefits of technology for the justice system, Justice Akhtar observed in the judgement he authored.

On April 13, 2021, the Supreme Court — by a majority of six to four — dismissed Justice Isa’s application seeking permission for live streaming of the hearing of his review petition.

Justice Munib Akhtar terms judge’s application ‘novel’

Justice Akhtar observed that technological developments should be monitored and appreciated to ensure that access to justice for litigants is constantly improving.

Therefore, the court’s dismissal of the application should not be construed as an absolute refusal of public broadcast or live streaming of court proceedings. Instead, it should be understood as an exercise in judicial restraint and caution.

“We are aware that judicial systems around the world are experimenting with cameras in the courtroom,” Justice Akhtar observed, saying that some courts are regularly broadcasting/live streaming their proceedings while others are participating in pilot projects. The United Kingdom and Canadian supreme courts are in the former category, as they have been permitting live streaming of their cases for long. The state and federal courts of the United States are in the latter category because they are at varying stages in terms of allowing broadcasting of their hearings.

In view of the judicial system in Pakistan, the judgement says, it appears to be a certain overlap (both technologically and otherwise) between granting permission for hearings through video link and for permitting public broadcast/live streaming of court proceedings.

The judgement also cites a decision rendered by the Indian supreme court in a similar issue and observes that the Indian court allowed the petition, but emphasised certain issues to be sorted out before such live streaming can be permitted.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2022

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