Bilawal Seeks Live Telecast Of Bhutto Reference Proceedings

SC will make recordings from proceedings in Court Room No.1 available after the court timings the same day

Bilawal Seeks Live Telecast Of Bhutto Reference Proceedings

Pakistan People Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Monday requested the top court to live telecast proceedings of the presidential reference for revisiting former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's murder case. 

A nine-member larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, is expected to take up the matter on Tuesday.

Bilawal, through his counsel Farooq H. Naek, moved on Monday an application mentioning the political struggle of former prime minister and PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for democracy in the country. 

He stated that Bhutto was hanged, but his ideology remained. 

"It is a blot not just on the history of the family but a wretched stain on the entire judicial system of Pakistan and remains so till date," the application stated. 

Bilawal stated that to remove this stain and correct the wrongs in history, he wanted the reference to bring on record the reality of his grandfather's life. This is why he wanted the hearings of this case to be broadcast live on air so that the entire country could hear it, and this would be transparent for everyone.

"It is, therefore, most respectfully prayed that by accepting the instant application, permission may kindly be granted for Live Broadcast of the hearing of this Reference, which is on December 12, 2023," Bilawal requested, adding that this would meet the ends of justice.

Tuesday's hearing will be the seventh such hearing of the reference. The last hearing, or the sixth, was held 11 years ago.

Apart from Chief Justice Isa, the nine-member larger bench also includes Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Mandokhel, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Musrat Hilali.

Releasing recordings of proceedings

The top court is already prepared to release recorded proceedings of cases from today. 

The decision to release recordings is being widely appreciated as a significant step toward ensuring transparency in the top court's operations. 

The recorded proceedings will be uploaded to SC's website after the court's time.

Initially, the court will share proceedings from the chief justice's courtroom. 

However, lawyers and litigants fear that the top court's website could crash because of the influx of traffic on the website. 

The top court had decided to release recordings of proceedings based on a decision made during a full court meeting on September 18, where a majority allowed live coverage of judicial proceedings under the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act 2023. T

That initiative was piloted with PTV broadcasting the full court proceedings.

Later, a committee led by Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar was entrusted with assessing various options for streaming court proceedings live.

The committee has now presented its recommendations, deciding that instead of live streaming, recordings of proceedings from Court No. 1 will be made available on the SC website after the court session on the same day.

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain