ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday sought report from Director General (DG) ISI and DG FIA while it also directed the DG Law of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to appear before the court in person in Bushra Bibi’s petition against her alleged audio leaks.
single bench of IHC comprising Justice Babar Sattar issued the directions after hearing the petition of Bushra against the illegal recording of her telephone conversation with her lawyer and the release of the same on social media as well as on television networks. She moved the court through her lawyer Sardar Latif Khosa and Sardar Shahbaz Ali Khan Khosa.
The IHC bench stated in its written order that the breach of fundamental rights of citizens, if established, is not without consequence and it has most recently been held by the Supreme Court in constitutional petition No. 32/2023 (Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan vs. Federation of Pakistan) that Article 212(1)(b) of the Constitution promises to indemnify citizens against the tortuous acts of the government or any person in the service of Pakistan. It added that till such time that a special tribunal is constituted for such purpose, the High Court may afford such remedy where the rights of citizens are breached due to failure of the State and its servants to discharge their constitutional or statutory obligation.
The bench issued to the respondents and said that Chairman PEMRA in his report and response explain how a leaked private conversation can be allowed to be transmitted on TV channels. It also directed the Chairman PTA to undertake an inquiry and forensic analysis of the data available on social media including on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to determine the accounts through which the information was first released and identify the IP addresses in order to ascertain the identity of individuals who first released such information.
“Let a copy of the application also be sent to the Director General of ISI, who heads the country’s premier intelligence agency that functions under the control of the Prime Minister’s Office. Let DG ISI conduct an investigation using all technological means and tools available with the ISI and determine independently the identity of those who released the audio on social media (i.e. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook etc.) and file a report for the perusal of this Court. Let all reports and responses be filed within a period of 10 days,” maintained the bench.
It continued, “The DG Law PTA will appear in person on the next date of hearing and explain the details of the report solicited and also whether any instructions have been issued to PTA’s lincensees to enable phone tapping. The Director Law for PEMRA will also appear in person on the next date of hearing along with the relevant code of conduct for electronic media that PEMRA enforces and explain whether the audio leaks such as the one has been released between the applicant and her lawyer could be telecast on National TV, and if not, what remedial and/or regulatory action was taken by PEMRA in such regard.
The bench further said that let the office transmit copies of this order along with copies of the application and annexures to Chairman PEMRA, DG ISI, DG FIA and Chairman PTA for information and compliance.
In this matter, the petitioner is aggrieved by the illegal recording of her telephone conversation with her lawyer and the release of the same on social media as well as on television networks. Her counsel stated that there is no legal sanction for recording telephone conversations of citizens and such recording is in breach of the right to dignity and privacy guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution.