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CJP Isa Reacts To FIA’s Summons For Journalists

CJP Isa Reacts To FIA's Summons For Journalists

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa has taken suo motu notice of reported harassment of journalists by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), allegedly as part of a targeted campaign against the superior judiciary. This action follows a joint resolution by the Press Association of the Supreme Court (PAS) and the Islamabad High Court Journalist Association (IHCJA), with subsequent discussions between the CJP and representatives of these bodies.

In response to these concerns, the CJP has formed a three-judge Supreme Court bench, which includes Justices Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Musarrat Hilali, to address the matter. The scheduled hearing for this suo motu notice is on Monday. It is worth noting that this notice supplements a case initiated in 2021 at the request of the PAS, which also pertained to allegations of harassment against journalists.

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The court has directed key officials to personally appear before it, including the Attorney General for Pakistan, Chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Director General of FIA, and Chief of Islamabad Police. This directive comes in response to reports that the FIA’s cyber wing issued notices to around 47 journalists, allegedly in response to a perceived smear campaign against judges.

The joint resolution, expressing concern over the perceived chilling effect on journalists covering Supreme Court proceedings, contends that such actions violate constitutional rights, particularly those protected under Article 19.

One of the journalists purportedly issued a notice, Siddique Jan, revealed that he learned about it through social media and raised concerns about potential risks arising from the personal information included in the notices. Similarly, journalists Matiullah Jan and Saqib Bashir discovered the notices through social media and emphasized the importance of authorities distinguishing between constructive criticism and malicious campaigns.

These notices coincide with the establishment of a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) by the interim government to probe a social media campaign targeting Supreme Court judges, particularly following a recent judgment regarding the electoral symbol of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Several other journalists have also been implicated in social media discussions related to this matter.