ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has directed the government to register an FIR of journalist Arshad Sharif’s murder, and submit a fact-finding report on the matter tonight (Tuesday).
A five-judge larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar heard the suo motu of the brutal killing of journalist Sharif, which was taken by the CJP, earlier in the day.
The chief justice, who mostly dictates order at the end of the case; however, on Tuesday, in a verbal order asked the additional attorney general (AAG) to “Get an FIR registered tonight.” He also said: “We are expecting the report today.” Earlier, during the proceeding, the chief justice had asked AAG Amir Rehman “to give us a report tomorrow (Wednesday).”
Justice Bandial said Arshad Sharif was killed in Kenya on 23-10-22 and they (the court) waited for 43 days. “We only manage to get the medical report which is unsatisfactory despite the fact a huge array of senior doctors was in the team, which conducted the post-mortem of Arshad’s body.”
The CJP also questioned why the FIR was not registered. Rehman said the government was waiting for the fact-finding report to register the FIR. Justice Mazahar said that in criminal cases, the FIR is essential, adding even if the tragedy takes place in another country, still under the CrPC the FIR could be registered in Pakistan. Justice Ijaz said how the investigation will trigger when there is no FIR.
Secretary Foreign Office (FO) Asad Majeed on the Court’s query informed that efforts are being made at the highest level. “Prime Minister [Shehbaz Sharif] has spoken to the president of Kenya seeking his support.”
Additional Secretary FO Syrus Sajjad Qazi said that Pakistan High Commission in Kenya is in continuous touch with the Kenya authorities. “We keep reminding them and keep pursuing the case”, he said. Justice Ijaz remarked that no substantive effort/progress has been made so far, adding no police investigation report of Kenya has been shared.
The chief justice asked the additional secretary, “you (the FO) have to be more proactive. You have to designate an official to continuously monitor the case.” He said that our information is that no complaint has been lodged neither in Kenya, nor Pakistan. He further said that this is the test case for the government as it has to protect its citizens.
The chief justice said they do not want the journalists mistreated, adding if they lie or do something wrong, catch them and punish them in accordance with the law. Justice Mazhar said the journalist (Arshad) was murdered in Kenya in a mysterious manner.
At the onset of the proceeding, the chief justice remarked that the fact-finding committee that went to Kenya came back a long time ago. He inquired why so far the report has not been submitted to the court. “Our Human Rights Cell is working and getting information on Arshad Sharif’s murder,” he added.
The AAG informed that the report was received over the weekend, and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah was in Faisalabad during the weekend; therefore, could not examine it. The chief justice then said should they summon the minister.
The chief justice remarked does he (the minister) want to make some changes to it, adding they (the judges) have information that the report consists of 600 pages. It is not our (the Court’s) job to interfere in the affairs of the executive. “What the government has done will be reflected in the report.” Justice Ijaz said if they don’t want to share the report then with whom will they share it? The chief justice said: “There is an ongoing debate on social media,” the judge added, “fingers are being pointed at so many”. However, the AAG said that the prime minister and law minister were also yet to see the report.
“Everyone has the right to access the investigation report,” the judge responded, adding that “investigation is the government’s responsibility, not the court’s”. “A journalist was murdered,” the CJP added, “who killed him should be brought to light”.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022