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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa has said that access to information is a constitutional right of every citizen, and it is not just a matter of the court’s will.

He was addressing a workshop held for journalists reporting on superior judiciary.

The top court judge stated that before him being sworn in as the CJP, no full court meetings were held in the past four years. “Now court proceedings are shown live to improve the credibility of the court’s proceedings,” he said.

The chief justice also said that the Supreme Court was also subject to Article 19A of the Constitution. He told the gathering that a committee was working to nominate judges for the judicial commission, adding that the goal was to appoint good judges who understood the law well.

The CJP further said that the way to change the destiny of a country is to improve the quality of educational institutions. “In the Syndicate meeting of the Quaid-e-Azam University, it was ordered to restore student unions,” he revealed.

The CJP also said that important cases were being broadcast live so that people understood and raised questions. “People have the right to disagree,” he added.

The CJP shared the three-month performance report of the apex court. “What could have been a better opportunity than this for us to start our accountability in front of journalists,” the CJP remarked, adding that information about the judiciary reached the public only through journalists.

Supreme Court judge Justice Athar Minallah also spoke on the occasion. He said if even critics trusted the court then it was a test of the judiciary. Everyone should criticise, but also trust the judiciary, he maintained.

Referring to the lack of freedom of speech in the country, the top court judge said the endless process of censor kicked off after the state’s censoring Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech.

The SC judge said Pakistan would not have been split into two, if the oath was not transgressed.

He said the states could not control the expression of opinion in the technological era. However, he said the reporters doing vlogging have an economic interest too, therefore, they should maintain balance in their comments.

Justice Minallah said he did not consider himself worthy of telling a reporter what his ethics were.

However, he advised the journalists that revealing the identity of a child or woman or misreporting something was a violation of the journalism’s ethics, he said, adding that he learnt a great deal of journalism from court reporters.

“When the matter of 18th constitutional amendment was raised, many forces were against it. A reporter asked me, what will the Supreme Court do about the 18th Amendment? I replied ‘in my opinion, the SC should not interfere in the constitutional amendment’,” he said.

The apex court judge said he had said he would resign if the 18th amendment was annulled and the next day news was published that “Athar Minallah has threatened the court.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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