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Supreme Court holdsJustice Isa’s Suo Moto Case on Hold

24 August 2021

The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday ‘held in abeyance’ an order issued by Justice Qazi Faez Isa on an application concerning journalist harassment, observing that the manner in which the suo moto jurisdiction was exercised on August 20 was contrary to the apex court’s procedure.A larger SC bench of five members, led by acting Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial, heard a case involving the Supreme Court’s invocation of suo moto jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

Justice IjazulAhsen, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar were also on the bench. The court stayed the order issued on August 20 by a two-member bench comprised of Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel on an application concerning journalist harassment.The court determined that the issue of journalist harassment was very sensitive and should be addressed, but it is unfortunate that the applicants did not trust the judiciary as an institution.

The court stated that it would investigate whether, aside from the chief justice, other judges could exercise suo moto jurisdiction. According to the court, any bench can traditionally recommend to the CJ any matter of public importance and invoke suo moto jurisdiction. The court issued notices to the Attorney General (AG), President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), and Vice Chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) to assist it with this critical issue of invoking suo moto jurisdiction. The court noted that the order issued by the two-member bench on the application was not pending before the court, and that the court had ordered that the matter be fixed before the court.

The matter of determining suo moto jurisdiction will be heard again on Wednesday, August 25,” the court said, adding that it was an interim order and that a final order would be issued later.The court held that normally, benches recommend suo moto action to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, but in this case, the two-member bench received the application directly and took suo moto notice.Similarly, the court stated in its order that the chief justice constitutes a bench; however, the two-member bench had ordered that the matter before it be fixed on August 26, which was not available during the current week.

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