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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Wednesday, issued notices to the secretary information and other respondents for filing a report and para-wise comments in the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)’s petition seeking security of media workers and journalists.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the directions, while hearing a petition of the PFUJ invoking the jurisdiction of this court under Article 199 of the Constitution.

The PFUJ raised questions of paramount public importance relating to the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 9, 14, 19, and 19-A of the Constitution.

The counsel for the petitioner contended that security of media workers and journalists has a direct nexus with protecting the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 9, 19, and 19-A of the Constitution.

He further stated that the Implementation Tribunal for Newspapers Employees (ITNE) has not been constituted and more than 40,000 cases are pending.

He also contended that there is no effective legislation regarding protection of media workers and journalists’ rights.

The chief justice, after hearing the arguments, directed the office to issue notices to the respondents for filing a report and para-wise comments within a fortnight. The IHC directed the registrar ITNE to submit a report regarding the current status of the pending complaints.

The bench directed the government to inform about the measures taken for protecting the rights of media workers and journalists.

“Keeping in view the importance of the matter in hand, the President, Islamabad High Court Journalists Association, President Supreme Court Bar Association, Mazhar Abbas and Hamid Mir are appointed as amici curiae to assist this Court,” the order said.

Justice Minallah observed that the questions raised are in the context of an independent free press and media, adding Article 19-A guarantees that every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance.

The order stated: “The independence of an editor, opinion writer and reporter is of crucial importance. Their independence and non-interference in editorial policies are relatable to the regulation of the proprietorship of the media and press.”

The office was directed to re-list the petition after three weeks.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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