CJP Isa Directs FIA To Withdraw Notices Issued To Journalists For Expressing ‘Criticism’

‘I am strongly against stopping criticism, as freedom of the press is enshrined in the Constitution.’

CJP Isa Directs FIA To Withdraw Notices Issued To Journalists For Expressing ‘Criticism’

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa remarked Monday that the Supreme Court cannot prevent journalists or the general public from criticizing the apex court, and he directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) not to take legal action against them for doing so.

The chief justice, speaking to the investigating committee during the hearing of a suo motu case involving press harassment, ordered the immediate cancellation of notices given to journalists for criticizing judges.

The top court deferred the hearing on media harassment until Tuesday (tomorrow), ordering the FIA director general to meet with journalists.

The court also instructed the federal government to submit a report regarding the torture of journalists within a fortnight. CJP Isa responded to the journalist groups' plea to suspend the FIA notifications, saying the SC will make a decision when the case resumes on January 30.

The hearing was conducted by a three-member bench led by CJP Isa and consisting of Justice Muhammed Ali Mazhar and Justice Mussarat Hilali.

Mansoor Usman Awan, the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP), and representatives from the Press Association of the Supreme Court arrived in court. The AGP informed the court of four petitions in the matter, with journalists Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui and Asad Toor among the plaintiffs.

"Abusive language is another issue, but the FIA should not react to the criticism. "I am strongly opposed to censoring criticism because freedom of the press is guaranteed by the Constitution," the chief justice remarked.

CJP Isa stated that he does not mind being mocked, but that mocking the judiciary will cost the country dearly.

On January 27, CJP Isa issued a suo motu notice to the FIA's list of 47 journalists and YouTubers for allegedly conducting a social media smear campaign against Supreme Court justices and the judiciary.