ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) vowed not to tolerate uncalled-for criticism and campaign launched against the Supreme Court judges in pursuant of its verdict on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) election symbol.

PBC Vice-Chairman Haroonur Rasheed, its Chairman Executive Committee and President SCBA on Tuesday held a press conference in the SC building.

They said the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), in the prevailing scenario, when the judges were trolled and a smear campaign launched, should play their role and trace out fake accounts on social media that were maligning the SC judges. They also requested the apex court to initiate contempt proceedings against those using contemptuous language against the Court and the judges.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa on January 13 set aside the impugned judgment of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) which had restored the “cricket bat” to the PTI.

Vice-Chairman PBC Haroon Rashid said since the SC upheld the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s verdict that there were many irregularities in PTI intra-party elections, party workers had started a smear campaign on social media criticising the judges who had passed the order.

He stated that the party (the PTI) had not conducted itself in accordance with the constitution and law and weakened democracy when they walked out of the National Assembly and later resigned when the no-confidence vote succeeded against their leader. They have also dissolved the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and destroyed the economy. He said “if there was a lacuna in the verdict then it has a remedy,” adding during the tenure of ex-CJP Umar Ata Bandial, they were used to file petitions at night and fixed the next day before a SC bench.

He said every educated and sensible person should read the SC’s judgment, adding that each political party had to hold intra-party elections as per its constitution. The political party that says it believes in the rule of constitution and law and democracy and does not hold elections then it is violating its own constitution.

The party did not issue nomination papers to its members so they could not contest the party’s election. The PTI, which claims it is a national party held its elections in a small village.

SCBA President Shoukat Shehzad stated that there was a trend that whenever a judgment was passed against any party it started a smear campaign against the judges, which was condemnable.

“The judgments are public properties and everyone has the right to make fair comments on them. The trend of attacking the judiciary and the judges must be stopped immediately.”

“We request the institutions, which control the social media, must note that campaign and trolling of judges come under contempt of court.”

“In media, no one has talked about legal points in the judgment, but only criticising the judges that one party’s candidates have been deprived of contesting upcoming elections.”

PBC Chairman Executive Committee Hassan Pasha said expressing one’s point of view and criticism on the Courts’ judgment was everyone’s right, but the prestige and dignity of the judiciary and the judges must be kept in mind.

He said nine hours the SC heard the case which was also telecast live on TV channels. The PTI lawyers appeared before the bench unprepared and failed to respond to the Court’s queries. When the judges inquired from the PTI’s counsels why the venue was changed, they had no answer. Similarly, when it was asked by the bench members that when their petition was pending before the Lahore High Court, then why did they approach the Peshawar High Court? This fact was concealed from the PHC.

“If there is a lacuna, then the PTI has right of review of the judgment. Full opportunity was given to the PTI to present its arguments. The PTI should also contest election.”

Pasha said there were two aspects of the SC’s order, one was moral and the other was legal. “If we see it on moral grounds, then PTI should have been given the ‘cricket bat’ symbol. But if we look at the judgment legally then why has the PTI failed to hold intra-party elections since 2021, when it was in power.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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