ISLAMABAD: Islam­abad High Court (IHC) Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani has stopped television channels from quoting his remarks during the hearing of an ongoing case, moments before requesting the case to be taken away from him.

On Monday, the judge took up the habeas corpus petition for the recovery of Murad Akbar, brother of the ex-aide of Imran Khan, Shahzad Akbar.

During the last hearing, the judge had censured the authorities, especially law enforcement agencies, and warned that the prime minister could be summoned if the missing person was not recovered.

The judge was apparently unhappy over how his remarks were reported by the media.

Justice Kayani stopped television channels from airing his remarks in the form of tickers and displaying his photograph during news bulletins. He said media will only report from the order issued after the proceeding.

He warned that the licence of the channel — issued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority — will be revoked over non-compliance.

Justice Kayani requests petition to be heard by another bench; lawyers say media justified in reporting on open hearing

The judge’s stern remarks didn’t sit well with some lawyers, who stated that since the case was being heard in an open court, the media was well within its right to report it. The law empowered the judge to order in-camera proceedings if they want to keep the details classified.

During Monday’s hearing, the petitioner’s counsel, on the court’s query, said that Mr Murad’s brother was facing a case and had left for the UK after the change of government last year.

Justice Kayani questioned if police have arrested the kin of all those who were absconding in the UK.

The Punjab Rangers director general didn’t appear in the court after he was summoned during the last hearing. Instead, Lt Col Kashif appeared on the DG’s behalf.

However, the judge observed that since Rangers claimed no involvement in the case, their presence was not required.

Justice Kayani then referred the petition to the IHC chief justice to be fixed before another bench.

During the last hearing on June 2, Justice Kayani summoned the heads of the capital police and Rangers, besides the interior secretary.

Irked by the government response, the judge had remarked that those who “abducted” Mr Murad could be seen in CCTV footage.

The aspect “prima facie reflects that some organised gang is operating in Islamabad, wearing the official uniforms of law enforcement agencies and engaged in criminal activities,” he had said.

Justice Kayani had also expressed displeasure over millions of rupees Safe City Project and termed it “useless” as he remarked that certain quarters were using the camera to make and upload “personal videos” of people but not acting against thieves and dacoits.

Mr Murad’s brother, Shahzad Akbar, has been in the spotlight over the past few weeks for being allegedly involved in Al Qadir Trust case being probed by the National Accountability Bureau.

According to the FIR registered with the Shalimar police station, Mr Murad was “abducted” from his home in Islamabad’s F-10/4 area. Thirty people wearing Islamabad police and Rangers uniforms and some in civil dress barged into his house on May 28 and took him away, it said. The police, Rangers and Counter-Terrorism Depart­­ment have denied the involvement.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2023

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