SC serves notices to Vawda, Mustafa for ridiculing judiciary

ISLAMABAD   -   The Supreme Court of Pakistan Friday issued show cause notices to Senator Faisal Vawda and MNA Mustafa Kamal for ridiculing the judiciary in their separate press conferences.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Irfan Saadat and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan conducted hearing of the suo moto notice which Supreme Court took on their press conferences they held on May 15 and 16.

The bench also issued notice to Attorney General for Pakistan under Rule 7(2) Order XXVII of Supreme Court Rules, 1980, saying he will conduct the proceeding. It directed the SC office to send the copies of the order to AGP Mansoor Usman Awan.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) was also ordered to submit the recording of the press conferences and the transcript which include the questions and answers.

The court noted that in the press conferences both the parliamentarians had apparently levelled serious and malicious allegations against the judiciary and passed comments against judges. It noted that the press conferences were live-streamed on social media and those were also published in newspapers.

The bench observed that following the speech of Vawda, MQM-P leader Mustafa Kamal also held the press conference at National Press Club, Islamabad.

The court order said that Article 19 of the Constitution grants every citizen the right of speech, but it also places restriction with regard to the contempt of court. It further said that Article 204 of the constitution defines the contempt of court. The matter is also attended by Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003, it added.

The court said that the press conferences by Faisal Vawda and Mustafa Kamal appear to be contempt of the judiciary. “We are constraint to issue show cause notices to Faisal Vawda and Mustafa Kamal and direct them to submit their explanation/reply and personally appear before the court on next date of hearing,” said the bench.

The CJP maintained that opinion can be given on sub judice matters and that a lot more has been said about him. He questioned whether such actions were intended to diminish the respect of institutions. The CJP asked if an entire institution should be disrespected because of the wrongdoing of one man. “If I have done something wrong, tell me, don’t point fingers at the entire judiciary,” he remarked.

“Lawyers, judges, and journalists include both good and bad people,” he noted.

The chief justice acknowledged potential flaws within the judiciary. Explaining his earlier remark, he stated that the responsibility for the sins of a father should not be placed on the son. Justice Faez emphasized his efforts to enhance transparency in judicial matters and noted that he even reduced his powers in order to achieve it.

The court remarked that the “weakest individuals” are those who resort to carrying guns and hurling abuses. CJP Isa continued to comment further on his stance regarding the futility of personal attacks referring to a specific incident. “A commissioner claimed I rigged elections. How can a chief justice rig elections? Such allegations are not made in civilized societies,” he remarked.

Referring to Vawda and Kamal’s pressers, Justice Faez maintained, “They took advantage of my neglect, and thought that they should also make a speech”.

CJP Faez categorically said that he would never defend those who validated martial laws and stressed that any punishment for his wrongdoings should not be extended to other judges.

The apex court noted that such remarks were uncommon in civilized societies which is why contempt of court notices are not issued there.

Later, the court deferred hearing of the  case till June 5, 2024.

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