Justice Isa’s request for live-streaming of proceedings rejected

6-4 verdict recognises freedom of information law but says modalities yet to be decided

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) rejected on Tuesday a petition filed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa seeking a live coverage of proceedings in a set of his review petitions.

The petitions were filed last year against a short order and a subsequent detailed judgement on the filing of presidential reference against the judge that accused him of being in possession of foreign assets in the United Kingdom.

On June 19, seven judges of the 10-member larger bench quashed the reference but ordered the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to conduct an inquiry into the assets and submit a report to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

Pleading his own case before the bench, Justice Isa had requested a live transmission of the proceedings in the case.

On Tuesday, the bench rejected the request 6-4. It further said a detailed ruling on the petition will be issued later. The verdict was reserved on March 18.

During the proceedings, Justice Umar Ata Bandial acknowledged the right of the people to have access to information in matters of public importance under Article 19-A but said the details and modalities of which are yet to be decided by the full court.

The dissenting note observed that the aforementioned article created an obligation on state institutions to take the necessary measures to ensure the realisation of the fundamental rights of people to have access to information in matters of public importance.

“Cases under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, including review petitions and other matters arising therein, are matters of public importance, and the public has a right to know and see how proceedings in these cases are conducted and concluded by the Court,” it read.

“We, therefore, hold that live streaming of court hearings of these cases should be made available for the information of the public through a link on the official website of this court.”

CONTEMPT CLAIM AGAINST MINISTER:

In March, Justice Isa’s spouse, Sarina Isa, requested the Supreme Court to initiate contempt proceedings against Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry over a “highly offensive” tweet.

Fawad, in his tweet, had said that he had been “listening to the speeches of an undertrial judge [Justice Isa] of the Supreme Court for a week. If [I] answer, then lectures will start [ranging from] ‘we are saddened’ to ‘we have been insulted’.”

“Sir, if you too are fond of politics like your godfather Iftikhar Chaudhry [former chief justice], then resign and contest elections for the councilor. You will get to know about both [your] popularity and acceptance.”

After the verdict was announced, Sarina lamented that no action was taken against Chaudry. “Yousuf Raza Gilani and others were sentenced for contempt of court but the registrar did not fix the contempt case against Chaudhry for hearing,” she said.

Justice Isa also questioned why the contempt petitions against the minister and another government official were not fixed for hearing. “It is a matter of the court’s honour,” he asserted.

Justice Bandial replied that the contempt appeals would also be fixed for hearing “once Justice Isa was mentally prepared for the arguments”.

The hearing was adjourned until Wednesday.

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