Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa says efforts are underway to properly manage operations of SJC n Live broadcast of cases helps prevent any misconceptions that may lead to allegations n Justice Athar Minallah says judges shouldn’t be afraid of criticism n There was no presumption of innocence during ZA Bhutto’s trial.

 

ISLAMABAD  –  Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Qazi Faez Isa Saturday said ef­forts were underway to manage the operations of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) properly.

Speaking at the 2nd Law-Bridge Workshop held at the apex court, the chief justice remarked that there would have been fewer complaints if the SJC had completed its tasks. Justice Isa empha­sised the importance of public awareness about institutions funded by taxpayers, noting that “information leads to ac­countability.” He added that the top court also presented itself to ac­countability before the public. “We have present­ed ourselves [judges] for accountability before you [people],” he said.

Accountability starts with information as American Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said a century ago, “Sunlight is said to be the best disinfec­tant,” said Chief Justice of Pakistan, Qazi Faez Isa while giving the keynote speech at the workshop on superior courts organised at a lo­cal hotel in Islamabad.

Chief Justice of Apex Court talked about Ar­ticle 19 of the Constitu­tion of Pakistan which gives freedom of the press and Article 19-A of the Constitution which gives every citi­zen the right to infor­mation. Justice Isa also read the Supreme Court judgement in his tenure which gave the right to information to a citizen who filed a petition about employees of the Su­preme Court of Pakistan including female staff. He also told the audience not to blame anyone based on a misunderstanding.

He noted that all judges had supported the live broadcast of Supreme Court proceedings. “We aim to broadcast cases live to prevent any misconceptions that may lead to allegations,” he added. Justice Isa also presented 1st quarterly report of the Su­preme Court under his leader­ship. The report is also made available to the public on the Supreme Court website, this is the first time the Supreme Court has presented its performance to the public, he added. Truth is our salvation and truth must be our goal, he emphasised.

while speaking on this occasion, Supreme Court Judge Justice Athar Minallah said Pakistan hasn’t had a good history in regards to free­dom of expression. Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech on August 11th, 1947 was censored by the state at that time, and from there began a long series of usurp­ing freedom of expression. Unfor­tunately, half of our history went under dictatorship and there was no room for freedom of expres­sion during those years.

Justice Minallah quoted Ugan­dan President Idi Amin who said, “Yes there’s is freedom of speech but I cannot guarantee your free­dom after speech.” He appreci­ated journalists’ struggle and ef­forts during dictatorships and hybrid regimes and said journal­ists were publicly flogged in dic­tatorships. He also said there’s an international human rights uni­versal declaration that when an accused is under trial, there is a presumption of innocence for the accused. There was no presump­tion of innocence during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s trial.

He said there are two types of criticism we face on the judiciary; deliberate decisions are being made and why would a person get re­lief from the court whom I dislike? Truth eventually prevails and noth­ing can be hidden in this era of tech­nology. He further added that judg­es shouldn’t be afraid of criticism. Citizens have the right to criticise the judiciary but should also trust the judiciary as well. It would be a violation of the oath of judges if a judge is influenced by the criticism.

Everyone knows the truth for the last 75 years and we’ve reached here by suppressing the truth. I’m not in a position to tell journalists what their principles are, said Jus­tice Minallah. We, judges, are pub­lic property even if we are good or bad, the future will decide the fate of our decisions. He also said that social media has monetary bene­fits that can influence journalists.

There were several panel dis­cussions at the event in which journalists, jurists, and politi­cians participated. The event was organized by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association, the Su­preme Court Bar Association, the Continuing Legal Education Insti­tute of Pakistan, the Pakistan Bar Council, and the Press Association of the Supreme Court.

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