Practice of labelling people ‘traitor’ should stop

IHC CJ stops placing journalists in police custody

Saqib Bashir May 24, 2022
IHC. PHOTO: Islamabad High Court website


The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday stopped authorities concerned from handing over custody of journalists, against whom sedition cases have been registered in different provinces, to local police without court permission.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that caution should be exercised while labelling someone a traitor as those who resorted to such a practice in the past faced embarrassment.

He said that a Pakistani can neither be a traitor nor a Mir Jaffar (a reference to a well-known traitor during the time of the British raj).

The chief justice made these remarks while hearing the pleas for protective bail of journalists Arshad Sharif, Sami Ibrahim, and anchor person Dr Moeed Pirzada.

The IHC ordered Islamabad IG and deputy commissioner that the journalists should not be handed over to local police without the court’s permission in cases registered against them in different provinces.

The court passed this order on the applications filed by journalists Sharif, Ibrahim and Dr Pirzada.

The court while issuing notices to interior and human rights secretaries sought reports from the provinces on the cases.

IHC asked if anyone’s feelings were hurt that cases against journalists had been registered.

Journalists’ counsel Faisal Chaudhry replied that “surprisingly feelings of 10-15 citizens were hurt randomly”, maintaining that the cases were a “copy and paste” and added that there was an impression that national institutions were called Mir Jaffar and Mir Sadiq.

He said the journalists were accused of inciting to mutiny in the first information report (FIR).

The lawyer questioned why all of a sudden cases were being registered against the country’s “best journalists”.

Chief Justice Minallah said he would order that the journalists’ custody should not be given to any province without the court’s permission.

He said it was very easy to accuse a person of treason, adding that the practice of labelling others traitors should come to an end.

The IHC CJ remarked that cases against petitioners Ibrahim, Sharif and Dr Pirzada had been registered in different parts of the country on the applications of ordinary citizens, observing that the state was not the party in them. It was further said that criminal cases had been registered against the journalists.

The chief justice noted that restriction on freedom of media was against the Constitution, adding that the journalists had been targeted for the last three years.

The applicants’ counsel pointed out that cases had also been registered against other journalists including Imran Riaz to which the judge replied that issues would be resolved automatically when institutions work according to the law.

The court asked Sharif what he had done that cases against him were being registered. The journalist said he was receiving threats on the phone that he would face hearings in different cases across the country.

Sharif further said he was threatened that he would be abducted on the way when he goes for the hearing of a case in Pishin and other parts of Balochistan.

Sharif’s counsel requested the court to transfer the cases registered in different cities to Islamabad. On this, the deputy attorney general said that no such law existed under which the cases could be transferred to the federal capital.

On the court’s query, IHC Reporters’ Association President Saqib Bashir said that Sharif was receiving threats of a “serious nature”. He said cases were being registered against journalists everywhere in the country.

The petitioners’ lawyer requested the court to grant one-week protective bail to Sharif, saying that 10 cases were registered against him where clauses of inciting to mutiny had been included.

The lawyer said that not more than one FIR of an incident could be registered against a person.

The chief justice remarked that a journalist should control his feelings and work responsibly.

Later, the hearing of the petitions was adjourned till May 30.


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