ISLAMABAD: Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh has slammed the debate about the Panamagate issue in the media and public, terming it ‘ill-informed and misguided’; however the Supreme Court resisted the temptation to restrain such coverage and public comments.
Justice Sheikh, in his 40-page additional note, has observed that the Panama issue attracted more public interest and media attention than anyone expected.
“Some of such attention unfortunately is contaminated with factually incorrect opinions, legally fallacious concepts and predicted decisions, which are bounced around on the airwaves every evening. The temptation to restrain such media coverage and public comments is resisted,” he adds.
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The justice observed: “Freedom of expression and press is a right enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and this court is bound to defend the same.”
“An open court is the essence of our legal system. Restraining comments on the court proceedings would perhaps negate the very concept of an open court. Being insulated from all criticism, it can do more harm to an institution than a little unfair criticism.”
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He observed in instant cases, strong emotions were unleashed from both sides of the aisle “but this court cannot allow itself to succumb to populism and must remain steadfast to its oath”.
Justice Azmat further observed: “They [justices] cannot be tempted to pronounce a popular decision but must decide all cases in accordance with law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”
“Tragically, some of such legal fallacies of the often ill-informed and misguided public debate penetrated into the courtroom; hence, it has become imperative to address the same even at the risk of stating the obvious.”
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