‘More you lie, the more it sells on Social media,’ observes CJP

  • SC summons movers of media regulation plea in their personal capacity

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa on Tuesday delivered a “piercing observation” about social media, saying that “The more you lie, the more it sells on Social media,” reflecting the scathing indictment of the corrosive impact that misinformation and its rampant dissemination have on society.

CJP Qazi Faez Isa observation came while heading a three-judge bench hearing a petition against the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) notices to journalists.

During the hearing, the CJP inquired whether or not there was any mover of the application filed by Advocate Haider Waheed present in the court pertaining to media regulations.

The top judge called the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) to the rostrum and asked him if such a plea like the one filed by Advocate Waheed was not a misuse of the court.

The AGP replied that it was absolutely an abuse of process.

CJP Isa noted that the SC should call all movers of this application on notice. The AGP supported serving a notice to the movers.

Barrister Salahuddin, representing the Press Association of the SC, told the court that there was nothing urgent in the case.

When CJP asked where Advocate Waheed was, he was told that the lawyer wanted to withdraw the application related to media regulations.

CJP Isa noted that Advocate Waheed had not even attended the court. “Would this application ensure or further restrict freedom of expression?” he inquired.

The top judge wondered who the movers of the application were.

“On what basis was this application filed since 2022? Have those objectives been fulfilled?” he asked.

The CJP noted that some of the applicants were from Chakwal and others from Islamabad.

“What was the common interest that brought these applicants together? the top judge inquired.

The CJP observed that there was a great deal of “selective reporting” in the media, adding that it would not be reported that the six applicants of this plea were disappeared.

“That’s why we said we will run our YouTube channel.”

Barrister Salahuddin opined that applications related to public interest could not be withdrawn.

The CJP asked Barrister Salahuddin if they had reached an out-of-court settlement with these people.

Barrister Salahuddin replied that they were a journalistic body and lacked the means of reaching such a settlement.

CJP Isa remarked that it was not necessary to have money for this purpose.

“It may also been said to give good publicity to my news in the future.”

The top judge inquired whether or not there was any other urgent matter. Barrister Salahuddin referred to the case of journalist Matiullah Jan.

The CJP observed that if he would call a case to be an open and shut one, it was that of Matiullah Jan as there was a video of his abduction.

The top judge remarked that why the government did not advertise in the newspapers it was looking for these people.

He added that if the government did nothing, it would receive an order that it would not like.

The CJP observed that recently it was falsely reported that his wife was sitting with him in the full court meeting.

He further noted that it would be said that his wife had not issued a denial.

“What will be the impression of the news that the CJP’s wife was sitting in an official meeting?”

The top judge asked should the SC issue a contempt notice to those who ran this false news, charge them and send them to jail.

He further inquired that whether or not money was being earned from more re-blogging of a post and likes.

The CJP added that would the membership of a journalist be terminated if they were found to be lying.

The top judge asked did the journalists take action against their members.

“We showed you how to do it in our institution. You should do it too.”

Barrister Salahuddin replied that such a journalist could be issued a show-cause notice and their membership could be terminated.

He added that the law of defamation in the UK was very strong and Pakistani TV channels could not continue broadcasting in that country because of heavy fines.

The SC order read that there was a request to withdraw the application related to media regulations, but neither the applicants nor their lawyer appeared before the court. It added that the application stated that the government was looking into media regulations itself but the AGP had refuted this claim.

The SC summoned the movers of the media regulations application in their personal capacity and also sought written arguments from the parties. It issued a notice to the applicants and adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period.

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