Pemra, PTA, FIA responsible for blocking campaigns against judges: IHC CJ

Islamabad High Court issues notices to authorities in contempt proceedings over campaign against Justice Jahangiri

Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri. — IHC website
Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri. — IHC website
  • Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri is not a part of the bench.
  • IHC CJ says Pemra, PTA, FIA responsible to stop such campaigns.
  • Justice Aurangzeb says the government did not take any action.

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq on Monday observed that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) are responsible to stop campaigns against the judges. 

The remark came as a full court bench headed by the IHC top judge initiated the proceedings against those involved in vilifying campaign against Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri. 

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz are part of the full court bench.

In the social media campaign, questions have been raised over genuineness of Justice Jahangiri's educational degree, terming it "invalid". Subsequently, a case was also filed on the same matter in the Supreme Judicial Council.

It should be noted that Jahangiri was a member of the IHC judges’ group who wrote a letter on March 25 seeking Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa to convene the judicial convention to consider the matter of alleged interference of intelligence operatives in the judicial functions or "intimidation" of judges in a manner that undermined the independence of the judiciary.

The six IHC judges — Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, Justice Jahangiri, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan and Justice Saman Rifat Imtiaz — had written a letter to the chief justice, who is also chairman of the SJC.

Addressing the additional attorney general, the IHC CJ said the court cannot tolerate the malicious campaign any longer.

The IHC, he said, took action in a similar matter earlier as well but nobody learnt a lesson from it. He warned that whoever was involved in the campaign would be brought to justice.

The high court chief justice said it was the responsibility of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to stop such campaigns.

Justice Aurangzeb said the government did not take any action when the drive was run against judges. He said an impression was being given that the government was behind the malicious campaign.

Meanwhile, Justice Farooq said they were not afraid of the accountability, however, any such campaign in the name of accountability would not be tolerated.

The chief justice asked whether they should tell the government and Pemra what their responsibility was and what they were supposed to do. Blasting the ongoing campaign on national and social media, he wondered if the judges should now give clarification in tweets that their educational degrees were authentic.

After this, the IHC issued notices to the Pemra, FIA director general and PTA, as well as journalist Gharidah Farooqi, Ammar Solangi, and Hasan Ayub.

The hearing was then adjourned till the end of summer vacations.

As per the sources, the full court of IHC was set to meet Monday evening to discuss the matter of social media campaign and a reference against Justice Jahangiri’s educational degree. However, the judges later decided to take up the contempt case the same day.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference, the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) officials have said state institutions should work by remaining within their jurisdictions and do not interfere into other’s domain. They said when a judge was appointed intelligence agencies verified his degrees, while his scrutiny was also done.

Islamabad Bar Council (IBC) Vice Chairman Aleem Abbasi, while addressing a press conference ahead of the hearing, said that the authorities should let the judiciary do its job. The lawyer community had no hope from any political party, he added.

Meanwhile, an IBC member Harooon Rasheed said it was intelligence agencies’ job to verify educational degrees of judges at the time of appointment.

IBC President Riasat Ali Azad said all the institutions should work within their jurisdictions as he warned of taking to take to streets if the social media campaign did not stop.

On the other hand, the IHCBA has called an “emergency meeting” of its Executive Committee on the same matter on Tuesday.

In a statement, the IHCBA condemned the campaign as malicious, adding Justice Jahangiri is an able and hardworking judge.

The bar association said Justice Jahangiri had a distinguished career as a lawyer and deputy attorney general. The IHCBA strongly believes in the independence and autonomy of the judiciary, the statement concluded.