ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), which has taken up a number of misconduct references against superior court judges, took an unusual step on Thursday when it warned the media not to publish or air news items about the council without verification or confirmation from the council’s secretariat.
A strongly-worded handout issued after the SJC’s scheduled meeting on Thursday said the council took strong exception to news items regarding the proceedings of the council and declared them “concocted, stage-managed, false, baseless and frivolous”.
The print and electronic media had carried reports regarding the Nov 12 SJC meeting after Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali had declared his intention to revive the SJC and purge the judiciary of tainted members.
The handout also ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority chairman to restrain the electronic media from publishing or airing such unverified stories about SJC and its proceedings.
The SJC secretary, in the official release, also cautioned the media against publishing or airing news items about the council without verifying or confirming them. He said that if any outlet published such stories about the council in the future, stern action would be taken against them in accordance with SJC rules.
The handout explained that SJC was an apex constitutional body to hold inquiries into the allegations levelled against judges and other holders of constitutional posts. According to the Article 13 of the SJC rules, the proceedings of the council cannot be reported, the handout emphasised, adding that Article 13 (1) stipulated that the proceedings of the council would be conducted in-camera and would not be open to public.
Article 13 (2) explains that only the findings of the proceedings will be allowed to be reported, whereas Article 13 (3) says that the proceedings of the meetings of the council or any other steps that council may take will not be reported, unless directed otherwise.
“Therefore, keeping in view the sanctity and grace of the judges, it is required that media should refrain from publishing/airing unverified and baseless stories,” the handout ordered.
The last time such prohibition was imposed by the SJC was in Sept 4, 2009 when it clamped a complete ban on the media from commenting on its proceedings, except for the information given by the council itself.
The announcement had come when on Aug 29, 2009, the SJC summoned a judge of the Sindh High Court (SHC) who was facing two references under Article 209 of the Constitution.
Later, on Oct 3, 2009, the SJC sent its findings to former President Asif Zardari, suggesting his removal.
Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2015