Judges shouldn't pay attention to social media campaigns, says Rana Sanaullah

PM's aide suggests parliament should be allowed to "regulate social media to eliminate obnoxious elements"

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PMs Adviser on on Political and Public Affairs Rana Sanaullah addresses a press conference. — APP/File
PM's Adviser on on Political and Public Affairs Rana Sanaullah addresses a press conference. — APP/File
  • No one safe from maligning social media campaigns: Rana Sanaullah.
  • Says existing laws lacked spirit to stop such activities on social media.
  • PTA, FIA issued notices over vilifying campaign against IHC judge.

After the Islamabad High Court (IHC) reprimanded federal institutions' ineffectiveness to stop vilifying campaigns against judges, Prime Minister's Adviser on Political and Public Affairs Rana Sanaullah said on Monday that the "jurists should not pay much attention to social media [campaigns]".

"What is the purpose of giving so much importance to social media," Sanaullah responded to a question while speaking to Geo News programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath.

He was reacting to the recent developments in the IHC today during the hearing of a case related to a defamatory social media campaign against Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri.

"If judges consider it [malign campaigns on social platforms] a matter of concerns, then the campaigners would think they are successful," the PM's aide said.

He was of the view that the judges should pay much attention to social media campaigns as "no one is safe from it".

The former interior minister also suggested the judiciary to allow parliament to envisage strict laws to "regulate social media" and "eliminate these obnoxious elements".

To a question regarding existing social media laws, the politician-cum-lawyer said that existing regulations "do not have a spirit and grip to stop these [objectionable] activities".

He admitted that such laws could be misused but courts would act accordingly to discourage such moves.

Sanaullah's statement came after a full court bench headed by the IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq initiated the proceedings against those involved in the vilifying campaign against Justice 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.

The high court observed that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) are responsible for stopping campaigns against the judges.

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

In the social media campaign, questions have been raised over the 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 (SJC).

It should be noted that Justice Jahangiri was a member of the IHC judges’ group who wrote a letter on March 25 seeking Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) 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.