TERENCE J SIGAMONY
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s application for live telecast of court proceedings in relation to his review petition against apex court verdict on Presidential Reference.
At the conclusion of Justice Isa’s submission, Justice Bandial said: “We will consult and ponder upon the informed arguments of both Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman and pass an order in the near future”.
We'll weigh both the submissions and will decide whether or not there should be live-telecast of review petitions’ proceedings.”
Justice Isa, at the end of his argument, stated: “Today in Pakistan, we can’t speak the truth because we are too scared. I place this in the hands of the lordships that for the better future of coming generations and the country, truth is live-telecast or not”.
He said: the word ‘kufr’ or disbelief means to cover the truth. We should castigate hypocrisy.”
He said if judges are blackmailed, they should commit suicide because they are following the dictations from others instead of doing justice.
He said that "through spy cameras, videos of Senate elections' sale and purchase were recorded and the same thing is done inside ladies’ toilets in Balochistan".
Justice Bandial thanked both Justice Isa and AAG Rehman who represented the prime minister and the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) for their arguments.
Additional Attorney General Sohail Mehmood informed the bench that he was appearing on behalf of President of Pakistan and endorsed the AAG Rehman’s arguments in the instant case.
He stated the minister for law and justice Dr Farogh Naseem had also conveyed to the AGP’s office to inform the bench that he is also adopting the arguments of AAG Rehman.
A 10-member larger bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan was hearing Justice Qazi Faez Isa's application for live screening of his review petition against the apex court judgment on Presidential Reference.
Senior Counsel Rasheed A Rizvi, who represented Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), adopted the arguments advanced by Justice Isa.
In his rebuttal, Justice Isa said that many things the AAG had said were “irrelevant”.
"I did not say that each and every case be broadcast live, but demands that this case be telecast live and nonetheless treated as a milestone. I want to show to [the nation] that my court and the judges are accountable before everyone.”
He said, “Except Justice Ata Bandial, other members of the bench are junior to me. I want to dispel the impression that the juniors can not decide against me.”
He said that "in case the bench decides to refer the matter to Chief Justice for a full court meeting, it should be kept in mind that out of 16 judges, 11 are present in the courtroom, while two have already recused themselves and there are three judges who are members of Supreme Judicial Council, which is a respondent in this case".
Justice Bandial said it is the choice of judges to recuse themselves or not from the full court meeting.
Justice Isa said it is his assumption that the two judges will recuse themselves.
He said that according to AAG, who represented the federation, people are ignorant, adding that “this does not suit the federation to consider its citizens as ignorant”.
Upon this, Justice Bandial told the judge to be careful as each and every word of him is carried by the media and it is valuable and counted.
He also reminded Justice Isa that it was he who himself told the bench on Wednesday that the media misreported his ‘we are living in the gutter’ remark.
Justice Isa said that AAG contended that the court’s proceedings are mostly in English, which is not understandable to the general public. He said the Pakistan Resolution on 23rd March, 1940 was passed in English language. Although few people at that time used to understand English, they supported the Resolution. He said “on this day [23rd March], instead of making speeches on resolution, we have parades”.
He said; “All of us wanted that our children get education in English-medium schools.” He said the Quaid-e-Azam was not fluent in Urdu and used to make speeches in English. He said though the masses did not understand English, they listened to the Quaid’s speeches with keen interest.
He said it is the order of the Supreme Court to translate Constitution and the laws in the Urdu but nothing had happened.
"For two years, malicious propaganda was launched against me and my family," he said, adding, “I am not going anywhere and will remain firm like rock.”
He questioned for how long we will keep hiding the truth, adding that “no one can still dare speak against General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf”.
He said that recordings are being done for blackmailing, adding "was it right to leak out video of an accountability court judge [Arshad Malik] in a compromised position"?
He said criminal recordings are done at death cells for live broadcast on TV channels.
In an obvious reference to the establishment, he said: "If they think they are the owners of this country, they are either Pharaoh or mad".
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a speech, in Quetta said that the opposition is supporting a judge, which shows, they want him not to decide constitutional cases and remain stick to only civil matters.
He said Imran Khan is the only prime minister of the world “who goes to office in a chopper”. He said perpetual fear vanishes with transparency and accountability, adding that if “we want to become powerful, we have to make everything transparent”.
He questioned why the Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission's report is not made public. Upon that Justice Bandial said the report had been published.
Justice Isa replied that it was not published in Pakistan, adding tht only a version of the report was published in India, which is also doubtful.
He said that a dsy ago, the AAG a had supplied the old version of US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report. He then supplied the photocopies of the latest version. He said according to latest report, the camera in the courtroom brings transparency, openness and efficiency.
He said the cabinet proceedings should be broadcast live, the transmission of political statements of the prime minister and ministers on Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) is illegal. He said the salaries of the PTV staff are paid from the public funds and using the state-run channel for political purposes by the government is illegal.