ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court, on Thursday, recalled Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s 20th August order to issue notices to the federal and provincial authorities in harassment and intimidation of journalists case and laid down the criteria in relation to suo moto jurisdiction.
It, however, said that the substantive claims made by the Press Association of Supreme Court and others in the application presented in the Court on 20-08-2021 shall be placed before the chief justice for consideration.
A five-member larger bench, headed by Acting Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Qazi Muhammad Ameen, and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar decided about criteria for taking suo moto.
In a short order, detailed reasons of it will be recorded later, the larger bench declared that the invocation/assumption of the suo moto jurisdiction of the apex court under Article 184(3) of Constitution shall be guided by; “The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) is the sole authority by and through whom the said jurisdiction can be, and is to be, invoked/assumed. The CJP may invoke/assume the said jurisdiction in his discretion and shall do so if so requested or recommended by a bench of the Court.
“No bench may take any step or make any order (whether in any pending proceedings or otherwise) as would or could constitute exercise of the suo moto jurisdiction (such as, but not limited to, the issuance of any notice, making any enquiry or summoning any person or authority or any report) unless and until the chief justice has invoked/assumed the said jurisdiction.”
“All matters already pending in respect of, or involving, the suo moto jurisdiction of the Court shall, notwithstanding continue to be heard and disposed of by such benches as are constituted from time to time by the Chief Justice.”
Earlier, during the proceedings, Justice Ijaz said that the criteria for taking suo moto and how it will be used is given in Article 184(3).
Vice-Chairman Pakistan Bar Council Khush Dil Khan said suo moto is taken on the violation of the fundamental rights.
The word “Supreme Court” is mentioned in Article 184(3), adding the Court (Justice Faez Isa) took suo moto for the protection of journalists.
Justice Bandial said that the Court could take suo moto, but the question is whether the application can be filed in the Court. He said: Can a Court write in the order that the case is fixed before it?
The judge further said that in the judicial system, the chief justice is the head of the Supreme Court.
The PBC vice-chief argued that there are examples of taking notice on newspapers’ reports.
Justice Ijaz said a judge can take notice, but the question is what he should do after taking notice.
There are precedents of taking suo moto notice on the letters and the newspapers reports.
KhushDil said that in Pakistan people are punished for telling truth. Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin asked whether an applicant has power to say which judge of the Court hear his case.
Justice Muneeb said journalists should have filed their application according to the procedure.
The vice chairman said that there is no restriction on taking suo moto on the applications filed in the Court. He said this is not big issue, if Justice Faez had not referred the matter to the chief justice.
Advocate Jahangir Jadoon representing the journalists argued that the application was filed before the Court according to the procedure.
He said that procedure for filing application for suo moto is given in Article 184(3).
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021