ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq on Monday issued notices to former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, ex-spymaster Faiz Hamid and two journalists, in response to a petition seeking legal proceedings for allegedly flouting the Official Secrets Act.

In the petition, Atif Ali — a concerned citizen — sought the registration of a case against the journalists and the former generals over news reports regarding the ex-military officers’ role in politics. The director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was also put on notice. Justice Farooq heard the petition on October 4, but the court order was released on Monday.

The petitioner contended that the interview of ex-Gen Bajwa was conducted in a “reckless” manner and the journalists, Javed Chaudhry and Shahid Maitla, did not show any sense of responsibility in publishing them. The petition claimed the revelations made in the interview(s) were a violation of the Official Secrets Act and tantamount to inciting mutiny and disharmony.

It requested the court to issue directions to the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to register an FIR against the former COAS, former ISI chief, and the journalists. Besides, it also sought directions for the Pakistan Electronic Media Regu­latory Authority (Pemra) to impose a ban on the two journalists.

Plea seeks proceedings against ex-generals, journalists over violation of secrets law

Initially, the registrar’s office of the IHC in March this year raised an objection, saying that the high court was not an appropriate forum and asked the petitioner to approach the relevant authorities. When the petition was heard by the chief justice, he asked the FIA DG to proceed in accordance with the law. However, the petitioner during the hearing informed the court that the investigation agency did not take any action.

Subsequently, Justice Farooq issued notices to all respondents which included Gen Bajwa, ex-ISI DG, journalists Chaudhry and Maitla, and the FIA.

Gen Bajwa reportedly discussed various matters, including the no-confidence motion, against PTI Chairman Imran Khan, civil-military relations and other issues in interviews with the journalists. The petitioner also annexed these articles with the petition.

The petition stated that the authors of these news articles allegedly distorted facts in order to enhance the viewership. It further said that the articles raised certain questions on the conduct of military authorities which required to be probed.

The petitioner claimed that the respondents had committed a “cognisable offence” and liable to proceed in accordance with the relevant laws. The court adjourned the hearing till a date to be fixed by the registrar’s office.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Miles to go
Updated 14 Jul, 2024

Miles to go

Some reforms agreed with the Fund are going to seriously impact economic growth and fresh investments, at least in the short term.
Iddat ruling
14 Jul, 2024

Iddat ruling

IT was a needless, despicable spectacle which only ended up uniting both conservatives and progressives in ...
Cricket shake-up
14 Jul, 2024

Cricket shake-up

SOMEONE had to take the blame and bear the brunt of the fallout from Pakistan’s disastrous showing at the T20 ...
Injustice undone
Updated 13 Jul, 2024

Injustice undone

The SC verdict is a stunning reversal of fortunes for a party that was, both before and after general elections, being treated as a defunct entity.
Looming flour shortage
13 Jul, 2024

Looming flour shortage

FOR once, it is hard to argue against the reason that compelled flour mills to call a nationwide strike from...
Same old script
13 Jul, 2024

Same old script

WHEN it comes to the troubling issue of enforced disappearances/ missing persons — either Baloch or belonging to...