April 13th, 2021
By Ahmad Saeed
The Supreme Court on Tuesday, April 13, through a short order dismissed Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s application to livestream proceedings of his review petitions against the apex court on the Presidential Reference filed against him.
Six judges of a 10 member bench favored dismissing the application while four judges allowed the petition. Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmed, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah issued a dissenting note.
The decision was reserved on March 18, after days of marathon hearing on the petition in which Justice Isa represented his case in person.
The short order, authored by Justice Umar Ata Bandial who headed the bench, dismissed the plea to broadcast the court hearing while simultaneously recognising the right of the people to have access to information in matters of public importance under Article 19-A, “the details and modalities of which are to be decided by the Full Court on the administrative side.”
Justice Yahya Afridi in a separate note dismissed Justice Isa’s plea, declaring that “the relief sought by the petitioner would negate the very spirit of the oath taken by the petitioning Judge.”
However, Justice Afridi observed that public access to livestreaming or audio-video recording in the proceedings of public importance, including those under Articles 184(3) and 186 of the Constitution, is their fundamental right under Article 19-A.
“The Registrar of this Court is, therefore, directed to place the matter before the Full Court for appropriate steps as it deems fit, under Article 191 of the Constitution, to effectuate this fundamental right of the public,” the order stated.
The dissenting order by the four judges held that live-streaming court hearings in matters of public importance should be made available for information of the public through a link on the official website of that Court.
The order also directed the Supreme Court Registrar to provide for the requisite technological infrastructure and make arrangements for necessary amendments in the Rules under Article 191 of the Constitution.
“The Registrar of this Court shall ensure that the un-edited audio recording of the proceedings of the court hearing of the review petitions is made available to the public on the official website of the Court on the same day soon after the hearing and before the close of the working hours,” the dissenting note read.
The Supreme Court will resume hearing on the review petition tomorrow.