Justice Qazi Faez Isa has said the PTI led federal government is scared of the truth and that is the reason why it is opposing his application for a live broadcast of the court proceedings on his review petition against the Supreme Court’s June 19, 2020 verdict.
“My life has been under the microscope for the last two years,” Justice Isa said on Monday in a reference to a presidential reference that in June 2019 sought the judge’s removal over his failure to show his family members foreign assets in his wealth statement.
“Now I want to make it [my private life] public but they [government] do not want to do this,” the judge added. Justice Isa was presenting arguments before a 10-judge larger bench in support of his application to live broadcast the review proceedings.
The SC judge wondered as to why the government is scared of the truth. He claimed that the government wants a controlled media “and that is the reason while people are switching to other social media platforms including YouTube”.
When the 10-judge bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, resumed the hearing, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Amir Rehman opposed Justice Isa’s application for a live broadcast.
He questioned the application’s maintainability and said the SC while hearing a review petition cannot decide this matter. “It is not a judicial matter but a policy matter and it can only be decided in a full-court meeting on the administrative side.”
He said the live broadcast does not come under the purview of the fundamental rights.
However, Rehman admitted that the SC can ensure freedom of speech. He said live broadcast is the right of the media and not of any party to a trial. “No media house has applied for the live broadcast of the court proceedings in this case”.
The AAG contended that the parliamentary session is broadcast live as the debates in the parliament are of general nature. “But the debates in the court are technical in nature. The language used in the court proceedings is not the common language,” he added.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, a member of the bench, remarked that we are now living in a global village and need to keep up with the world. “Judges are not living in isolation but in a global village. The Supreme Court is the court of the people of this country. Nothing is secret in the court proceedings.”
The judge said the Supreme Court is not a private institution but a public one. “This institution is for the public and judges are only its trustees. Let the people decide how the institution [SC] runs,” he said.
Justice Shah said the court has been facilitated in many cases with the help of technology and hearing of cases through the video link is also an example of the use of modern technology in courts.
“If a person sitting in Gwadar wants to watch the court proceedings, how can he be stopped? The public should know if anyone is insulting a lawyer or a judge. The federal government should not tell us what to do. Live broadcasting is the prerogative of the court and not the federal government,” he added.
The presiding judge – Umar Ata Bandial – noted that a decision on Justice Isa’s application for live broadcast depends on the precedents set by foreign courts. The bench later adjourned hearing of the case till March 17.
On June 19, 2020, seven judges of a 10-judge bench quashed the presidential reference filed against Justice Isa but also ordered the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to conduct an inquiry into the foreign assets of the judge’s family members.
Three judges had opposed the majority order to refer the matter to the FBR for an inquiry. When Justice Isa and a number of other petitioners filed review petitions against the June 19 order, the CJP formed a six-member bench comprising the judges who wrote the majority order.
The petitioners later challenged the constitution of the review bench and requested the court to also include in the bench the three minority judges. The six-judge bench, also headed by Justice Bandial, on December 11, 2020, reserved judgment on the pleas.
The bench on February 22 referred the matter to the CJP, who, on February 23, constituted the 10-judge larger bench to hear review petitions filed against the court’s June 19, 2020 order.
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