Journalists harassment: SC orders FIA notices to be withdrawn


Supreme Court

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court on Monday ordered that notices issued by the Federal Investigation Agency to journalists for criticism on the judiciary be withdrawn immediately.

Last week, the FIA issued summons notices to 65 individuals including 47 journalists from mainstream media and social media over a ‘malicious anti-judiciary campaign’.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court ordered that notices issued by the Federal Investigation Agency to journalists against the backdrop of an alleged malicious campaign targeted towards superior judiciary.

Led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the bench also included Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Musarrat Hilali.

The proceedings were held after the court took up a petition against notices issued by FIA to dozens of journalists.

Office bearers from the Journalists Association of Supreme Court appeared in the hearing while Attorney General Mansoor Awan represented the government.

Justice Isa remarked that the country is damged if a mockery is made of the judiciary. However, he added that journalists should not be harassed or intimidated just because they criticised something or somene.

The chief justice also said that cases should not be filed against journalists for merely expressing right to free speech. The three-member SC bench ordered FIA to withdraw the notices served to the journalists.

The Chief Justice adjourned the case till tomorrow (Tuesday)

BACKGROUND

The suo motu notice was taken by the CJP following the adoption of a joint resolution by the Press Association of the Supreme Court (PAS) and the Islamabad High Court Journalist Association (IHCJA) and after his meeting in chambers with the newly elected representatives of the two bodies.

The case was taken up along with another one instituted in 2021 at the request of the PAS regarding harassment of journalists.

The resolution was adopted after the PAS and IHCJA representatives held a joint meeting against the back drop of reports circulating on social media that the FIA’s cyber wing, after taking notice of the smear campaign against judges, had issued notices to around 47 journalists.

The resolution regretted that FIA notices had sent a chilling effect and caused concern among the reporters who cover the proceedings of the Supreme Court and contravenes the rights guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.

Both the elected bodies, while condemning the notices to journalists, called upon the authorities not to harass them, and immediately withdraw the notices or else both groups will approach the representative bodies of journalists to chalk out a future line of action.

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