IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PAKISTAN, ISLAMABAD.
Constitutional Petition No. ____ of 2007.
Communist Party of Pakistan,
Through it’s Chairman:
Engineer Jameel Ahmad Malik,
Communist Party Secretariat,
1426-Fateh Jang Chowk,
Attock Cantonment. .........Petitioner
Supreme Court of Pakistan,
A Constitutional Petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 for enforcement of the Fundamental Rights enshrined in Article 19.
That the aforesaid Constitutional Petition under the Article 184(3) of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 read with Articles 2-A and 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 is being filed by the petitioner on the points of law, facts and grounds, as narrated, herein as under:-
POINTS OF LAW:
A. Whether PRO or Registrar of the Supreme Court of Pakistan or any other authority or a person can issue contrary instructions to Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan?
B. Whether the interpretation of Article 19 pertaining to the freedom of press is the responsibility of the Supreme Court of Pakistan or the Registrar or PRO of the Supreme Court?
FACTS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL PETITION:
1. That the petitioner is a political party deeply concerned about the legal consequences of the press release issued by the PRO M. Arshed Muneer of the Supreme Court of Pakistan which states that the “Media personnel interest in the coverage of routine proceedings of the Court may enter the Courtrooms. However, they are not allowed to carry mobile phones/cameras beyond the Public Reception”.
2. That the petitioner came to know about this press release when he was hearing one of the programmed of Faiza Dawood of ARY ONE WORLD at about 1945 to 1800 hours on Wednesday 11th April, 2007. Copy of the press release issued by the PRO on the direction of the Respondent No. 1 as downloaded from the website of http://www.supremecourt.gov.pk///pr.htm pertaining to the Supreme Court of Pakistan is placed at Annexure “A“.
3. That the press release vide copy placed at Annexure “A“ was issued on the eve when the Supreme Judicial Council will be hearing a Reference under Article 209 of the Constitution made by the President of Pakistan against Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Iftikhat Muhammad Chaudhry on the 13th of April, 2007.
GROUNDS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL PETITION:-
4. That the press release of the Respondent No. 1 fully curtails the freedom to the press enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 and accordingly this constitution petition is filed on the following among other genuine grounds, interalia:-
Firstly – The Article 19 relating to the freedom of speech and freedom of the press according to the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 reads as under:- “Article 19. Freedom of speech etc. : Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, commission of or incitement to an offence”. The press release issued by the PRO on the direction of the Respondent No. 1 vides its copy at Annexure “A” is contrary to Article 19. The Article 19 says that only reasonable restrictions as above are to be followed in relation to freedom of press and freedom of speech but the order of the Respondent No. 1 is totally in contrary to Article 19.
Secondly – The press release issued by the PRO on the direction of the Respondent No. 1 vides its copy at Annexure “A” fully curtails the freedom of the press enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973.
Thirdly – The Right of Freedom of Press is guaranteed by Article 19. All instrumentalities of State including the Respondent No. 1 are, therefore, supposed to act in a manner which may be conductive to promotion of this object of the Constitution.
Fourthly – The Supreme Court of Pakistan has already charged police officials for manhandling the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and this fact had only come on the surface due to the fact that the media men were allowed the coverage. If the freedom of Press to electronic media and TV news channels was not available (which is now being curtailed) when the police was manhandling the Chief Justice of Pakistan, no one in Pakistan or abroad had come to know the excesses of Pakistani Police upon Chief Justice of Pakistan.
Fifthly – The Holy Prophet PBUH says, “The highest kind of Jehad is to speak upon truth in the face of Sultan that deviates from right path”.
Sixthly – The press is the fourth pillars of the State and, therefore, no restrictions can be imposed legally and constitutionally for the independent functions of the fourth pillars. The restrictions imposed on the freedom of press by Respondent No. 1 are against the principles of trichotomy of powers. That all the fours pillars of the state – legislature, judiciary, executive and the press must function within their own scope and there should be no overlapping, interference or domination.
Seventhly – That in a democratic set up, freedom of speech/expression and freedom of press are the essential requirements of democracy and without them, the concept of democracy cannot survive. The people are interested to know what the truth is and what is going on in Supreme Court.
Eighthly – Freedom of speech and freedom of press are fundamental personal rights and liberties which are corner stones of democratic institutions. Both these liberties are the same, being distinguished only in the form of expression. The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals but necessarily embracing pamphlet, leaflets and every sort of publications including electronic media and TV news channels affording a vehicle of information and opinion. Similarly, the right to free speech is not limited to public addresses, pamphlet or word of an individual, but it also embraces every form and manner of dissemination of ideas that appear best- fitted to bring such ideas and views to the attention of populace and to the attention of those most concerned with them.
Ninthly – That free speech and freedom of press are the checks on abuse of Authority, especially Government Authority. The idea powerfully developed by Vincent Blase in a well known Article (‘The checking value in 1st amendment theory” 1977 American Bar Foundation Research Journal, Page 521) is that if those in power are subject to public exposure for their wrongs in the manner exemplified by Journalist’s account of the Watergate Scandal, corrective action can be taken and if the public officials know they are subject to such scrutiny, they will be much less likely to yield to the temptations presented to those with power to act in corrupt and arbitrary ways. When truths about abuse of Authority are revealed, citizens and other officials can take corrective measures. In areas of human like involving choice, what people do is partly depend on what they think will become known. Most particularly, persons are less likely to perform acts that are widely regarded as wrong and which commonly trigger some sanction or public rage. Thus, the prospect of truth being discovered influences what happens; public scrutiny deters. A liberal democracy rests ultimately on the choice of its citizens. Free speech can contribute to the possibility that they, and their representatives can grasp truth and that is significant for political life. It has long been assumed that a better informed citizenry will yield forming of better Government and better political decisions.
Tenthly– That obedience to the Constitution precedes submission to laws made there under and no Government, Federal or Provincial, can enforce a law without first fulfilling her own Constitutional obligations. The petitioner believes that the Respondent No. 1 have bypassed the Constitution of their own convenience. In short, any action under any law would not be in accordance with the Constitution unless this Court has spelt out the Articles to enforce the Fundamental Rights.
That in view of the legal and constitutional point raised as above, it is graciously prayed that the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan may kindly direct the Respondent No. 1 to immediately lift the ban and restrictions, which he has imposed on media personnel that they are not allowed to carry mobile phones and cameras vides it press release dated 11th April, 2007 until the disposal of this Constitution Petition.
PRAYER IN PETITION:-
In view of the above, the petitioner very graciously and respectfully prayed this Honourable Court to provide the following remedies:
1. Declare firstly – that the Fundamental Rights enshrined in Article 19 can be exercised within the Constitutional restrictions and the bar and restrictions imposed by the Respondents No. 1 via PRO in the press release vides its copy at Annexure “A” is unconstitutional and ultra vires with Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 and secondly Instruct the Respondent No. 1 to refrain from doing anything that harms the Fundamental Rights of the media personnel under Article 19 and thirdly declare the press release of the Respondent No. 1 concerning the media personnel as illegal and ultra-vires of the Constitution and thus void.
2. Any other remedy for the supremacy of the Constitution and the law, which this Honourable Court deems fit and appropriate in the facts and circumstances of the case, may also be granted and this petition may kindly be accepted with costs.
This prayer is made in the interest of justice.
Drawn up and filed by:
Dated:- 12th April, 2007. (Engineer Jameel Ahmad Malik)
Chairman of Communist Party,
Communist Party Secretariat,
1426-Fateh Jang Chowk,
LIST OF BOOKS:
1. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973.
2. 2004 SCMR 164
3. PLD 1989 Lahore 12.
Certified that this is the first petition in the Supreme Court on the subject.
(Engineer Jameel Ahmad Malik)