CJP Isa takes notice of FIA summons to journalists over alleged smear campaign

Shakeel Anjum
Sohail Khan
Justice Qazi Faez Isa. — Supreme Court of Pakistan
Justice Qazi Faez Isa. — Supreme Court of Pakistan

  • Journalist associations condemned notices issued by FIA.
  • CJP Isa calls both presidents of the associations to his chamber.
  • JIT sources confirm that it has completed first list of people.

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa on Saturday took notice of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)’s compiling list of journalists and YouTubers for allegedly running smear campaign on social media against judges and judiciary, The News reported on Sunday. 

The development came after the Press Association of Supreme Court and Islamabad High Court Journalists Association condemned the alleged harassment of the journalists by the FIA.  

The FIA’s list titled "JIT-SM campaign against CJP and State Institutions" which has names of 47 media persons and YouTubers has gone viral on social media.

The FIA said that so far 115 inquiries had been registered and 65 notices had been served by the investigating agency against the individuals involved in propagating derogatory and false information against the CJP and state institutions on social media.

It was further stated that the date of hearing regarding these notices was January 31, 2024.

On January 17, the caretaker government formed a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to ascertain the facts behind a malicious social media campaign against the Supreme Court judges after the apex court gave a verdict on election symbol of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The JIT constituted under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 consists of officials from police, FIA and intelligence agencies.

In view of the list issued by the FIA, a joint meeting of the Press Association of Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court Journalists Association was held here at the Supreme Court presided over by Aqeel Afzal and Fiaz Mahmood, presidents of the associations.

After examining the matter in detail, both associations condemned the notices issued by the FIA to journalists and YouTubers and demanded the FIA refrain from initiating such steps, subjecting journalists to harassment and withdraw these notices.

The journalist leaders made it clear that if the FIA continued resorting to such steps, then they would be forced to evolve their next course of strategy collectively with other journalist organisations.

Meanwhile, when the joint statement of both the associations were highlighted by the media, CJP Isa called both the presidents of the associations to his chamber.

Justice Isa told them that as he was going to take up an old case on Monday regarding harassment of journalists, they should present their grievances during the hearing.

Meanwhile, the office of Supreme Court on Saturday issued notices to all the parties for Monday 29 in the case of harassment of journalists.

On August 20, 2021, a two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Isa and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail while hearing a case had taken notice of harassment of journalists. The FIA on August 6 had arrested journalists Amir Mir and Imran Shafqat in Lahore for their disrespectful attitude against the Pakistan Army, the judiciary and women.

Journalist Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui had brought into the notice of the court about an application regarding harassment of journalists on which the court had directed to file a petition in this regard.

Later, some journalists including Amir along the Press Association of Supreme Court (PAS) had filed a petition in the apex court.

The court held that the harassment of 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 prayed the apex court to initiate action to ensure their fundamental rights and also to take appropriate action against all those who are violating their fundamental rights and causing the deteriorating landscape for the press freedom in Pakistan.

Later, on September 13, 2021 a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by then Justice Ijazul Ahsen and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Qazi Amin Ahmed, had conducted the hearing on the suo motu case.

Earlier, the JIT sources confirmed that the caretaker government-formed body had completed the first list of 46 people reportedly involved in trolling or sharing the posts against the judges of the apex court.

The JIT served notices on nominated people living in Pakistan or abroad to join the initial investigation at Regional Office at G-13 Markaz on Tuesday, 30th of January. The sources said that it was the first phase of inquiry.

The sources confirmed list contains names of 46 journalists including Imran Riaz, Siddique Jan, Matiullah Jan, Asad Ali Toor, Paras Jahanzeb, Iqrar-ul-Hassan, Syed Akbar Hussain, Danish Qamar, Saqib Bashir, Sajjad Ali Khan, Syed Haider Raza Mehdi, Shaheen Sehbai, Cyril Almeida, Rizwan Ahmed Khan, Adeel Raja, Riaz-ul-Haq, Sabir Shakir, Syed Essan Hassan Naqvi, Muhammad Faheem Akhtar, Saqib Hussain, Sohail Rasheed, Nasir Mehmood, Ehtisham Naseer, Sibtain Raza, Shiraz Afzal, Muzammal Afzal, M Afzaal Bela, Nasreen Qidwai, Jibran Nasir, Tayyab Ijaz, Aneela Munir, Zeeshan Ali, Hafiz Shakir Mehmood, Ayaz Ahmed, Tariq Mateen, Salman Singer, Azhar Mashwani, Adnan Amal Zaidi, Orya Jan Maqbool, Zahid Qayyum Warraich, Arif Hameed Bhatti, Nazar Muhammad Chohan, Fazal Javed, M Akram, Sara Taseer and Mateen Hasnain.

The sources said that the list of 46 has been submitted to relevant authorities, adding that cases would be registered against those who were directly involved in the trolling, while the second sort of accused could be warned to be careful in future but it was the prerogative of the JIT to decide their issue according to the dominant situation. The habitual trollers, who deliberately disgraced and humiliated the judges, would not be spared.