- Justice Qazi Faez Isa writes letter to acting CJP Umar Ata Bandial to question formation of larger bench in case over harassment of journalists.
- Says two-member bench was not informed before five-member larger bench was constituted.
- Last week, the SC had taken notice of harassment of journalists and summoned the interior secretary, FIA director-general and Islamabad IGP in person along with reports.
ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa raised an objection Wednesday over the formation of a five-member larger bench in a Supreme Court case related to the alleged harassment of journalists, calling the new bench “unconstitutional”.
He objected to the larger bench in a letter written to acting Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial.
Last week, the SC had taken notice of the alleged harassment of journalists and summoned the interior secretary, FIA director-general and Islamabad IGP in person along with reports.
A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, while hearing another matter, took up the issue when journalist Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui brought to the court’s notice an application over the alleged harassment of journalists.
The court directed filing this petition which was later filed by petitioners Imran Shafqat and Aamir Mir along with the Press Association of Supreme Court (PAS).
The court held that harassing journalists and depriving them of performing professional obligation is a matter of public importance, as the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
Filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, the petitioners requested the apex court to initiate action to ensure their fundamental rights and take action against all those who are violating them.
On Saturday, however, Justice Bandial constituted a larger five-member bench to provide clarity with regard to the invocation of the court’s suo motu jurisdiction.
The larger bench includes Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmad and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar.
The new bench then put the earlier order in abeyance on Monday and observed that its implementation may “obscure and unsettle the practice of invoking suo motu jurisdiction”.
On Wednesday, in his letter to the CJP, Justice Isa said the two-member bench was not informed before the five-member larger bench was constituted.
The Constitution of Pakistan lists various jurisdictions of the Supreme Court, he said, adding that the apex court has no jurisdiction to monitor the affairs of its own bench.
A five-member bench has no jurisdiction to hear the case, Justice Isa said.
If a five-member larger bench continues hearing the case, it will be unconstitutional, he wrote.
Justice Isa argued that once the case was decided, if anyone felt it was not dealt with in accordance to the Constitution, they had the option to review it.
He said the Constitution does not allow “monitoring jurisdiction”.
Critiquing the SC registrar, Justice Isa said that the registrar had acted to “serve the interest of the executive and to protect his colleagues”.
Justice Isa also said that a copy of his letter should be uploaded on the website of the Supreme Court.