As the Supreme Court resumes hearing in the journalist harassment case on Wednesday (today), senior lawyers are suggesting that either a larger bench be formed or the matter be put on hold until Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed returns home from his foreign tour.
Suggestions are circulating in legal spheres that the case should be taken up by a larger bench, including judges who are stationed at their local registries like in Karachi, Lahore or Peshawar, to hear the suo-motu case.
On Monday President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Abdul Latif Afridi requested a five-judge bench, headed by Acting Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, to order formation of a full court of the Supreme Court, comprising all its 17 judges, to hear the matter.
Vice Chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Khushdil Khan, who has been asked by the Supreme Court to assist it, told Dawn News that he would support Mr Afridi’s stance before the court on Wednesday.
Justice Munib Akhbar, Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmad and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar — in its Aug 23 order had asked the Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan, the PBC, SCBA and Press Association of the Supreme Court (PAS) to come prepared before the court on Wednesday since the Aug 20 order by a two-judge bench, headed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, might obscure and unsettle the practice of invoking suo motu jurisdiction, resulting in needless uncertainty and controversy with attendant consequences.
The Aug 20 order was issued on an application filed the PAS. Under the order, notices were issued to several federal government authorities and the law officers of the federation and the provinces with a directive to fix the matter before the court on Aug 25.
A senior counsel on the condition of anonymity said that since the matter revolved around suo motu actions — a practice usually undertaken by the CJP on realising certain violations of the fundamental rights or on the recommendation of a judge of the apex court — it would be better that the case be put on wait until the CJP returned from his visit to the US.
Meanwhile a lawyer has moved an application before the Supreme Court with a request to implead him as a party in the matter.
In a four-page application under Order 33 of Rule 6 of the Supreme Court Rules 1980, Zulfikar Ahmad Bhutta, stated that being a lawyer who had highlighted different violations of human and fundamental rights by approaching the superior courts since 1997, he was concerned with the matter.