Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq said the court cannot tolerate any malicious campaign

 Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq said the court cannot tolerate any malicious campaign against any judge any longer as he led the full court bench hearing matter of social media campaign against a high court judge.

A smear social media campaign was launched against Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, terming his academic degree invalid. Subsequently, a case was also filed on the same matter in the Supreme Judicial Council.

The IHC took action in a similar matter earlier as well but nobody learnt a lesson from it,” the IHC chief justice said, warning that whoever was involved in the campaign would be brought to justice”.

The IHC CJ’s remarks came during the contempt of court proceedings that the court started today against those involved in a smear campaign against the IHC judge. 

The high court’s full bench headed by the IHC CJ and comprises Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz. Justice Jahangiri is not a part of the bench.

It should be noted that Jahangiri was a member of the IHC judges’ group who wrote a letter on March 25 calling upon Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa to convene the judicial convention to consider the matter of alleged interference of intelligence operatives in the judicial functions or “intimidation” of judges in a manner that undermined the independence of the judiciary.

Giving his remarks in today’s hearing, the high court chief justice said it was the responsibility of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to stop such campaigns.

Justice Aurangzeb said the government did not take any action when the smear campaign was launched against judges. He said an impression was being given that the government was behind the malicious campaign.

Meanwhile, Justice Farooq said they were not afraid of accountability, however, any such campaign in the name of accountability would not be tolerated.

The IHC chief justice asked whether they should tell the government and Pemra what their responsibility was and what they were supposed to do. Blasting the ongoing campaign on national and social media, he wondered if the judges should now give clarification in tweets that their educational degrees were authentic.

After this, the IHC issued notices to Pemra, FIA director general and PTA, as well as journalist Gharidah Farooqi, Ammar Solangi, and Hasan Ayub.

The hearing was then adjourned till the end of summer vacation.

Meanwhile, addressing a press conference, the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) officials have said state institutions should function within their constitutional jurisdiction and do not interfere in other’s domains. 

They said when a judge was appointed intelligence agencies verified his degrees, while his scrutiny was also done.

Islamabad Bar Council (IBC) Vice Chairman Aleem Abbasi, while addressing a press conference ahead of the hearing, said that the authorities should let the judiciary do its job. The lawyer community had no hope from any political party, he added.

Meanwhile, an IBC member Haroon Rasheed said it was the intelligence agencies’ job to verify the educational degrees of judges at the time of appointment.

IBC President Riasat Ali Azad said all the institutions should work within their jurisdictions as he warned of taking to take to streets if the social media campaign did not stop.

On the other hand, the IHCBA called an “emergency meeting” of its Executive Committee on the same matter on Tuesday.

In a statement, the IHCBA condemned the campaign as malicious, adding Justice Jahangiri is an able and hardworking judge.

The bar association said Justice Jahangiri had a distinguished career as a lawyer and deputy attorney general. The IHCBA strongly believes in the independence and autonomy of the judiciary, the statement concluded.

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