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Bogus Petitioners: Supreme Court Probes Misrepresentation in Media Freedom Regulation Case from 2022

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Bogus Petitioners: Supreme Court Probes Misrepresentation in Media Freedom Regulation Case from 2022

In a Supreme Court session on May 13, revelations emerged that three out of six litigants, initially part of a 2022 petition aiming to regulate media freedom, declared they never consented to the case. The disclosure came during a hearing by a three-judge bench led by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa.

The individuals who appeared before the court to specifically deny their involvement included Raja Sher Bilal, senior vice chairman of the International Human Rights Movement from Chakwal, Professor Abrar Ahmed, principal of Wings College Chakwal, and Advocate Mohammad Asif, former president of the District Bar Chakwal—who notably clarified that he had never held the position of bar president.

The litigants claimed their names were falsely used to file the mysterious petition, spotlighting discrepancies as their signatures on the wakalatnama (power of attorney) did not match those on their national identity cards.

The original petition, filed by Advocate Haider Waheed on September 13, 2022, represented a diverse group, including former police chief Syed Ibne Hussain from Lahore, former joint secretary Hassan Mehmood and Advocate Kosain Faisal from Islamabad, Advocate Mohammad Asif of the Chakwal Bar, Wings College Principal Professor Abrar Ahmed and senior vice chairman of International Human Rights Movement Raja Sher Bilal from Chakwal

The petition sought to enforce a specific code of conduct across media platforms to protect national institutions from defamation, appealing for the enforcement of Article 19 of the Constitution by the government, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The bench issued a show-cause notice under the contempt of court law to one petitioner for failing to appear and repeated notices to two others, calling into question the integrity of the initial petition process.

After the death of the initial advocate on record, Ahmed Nawaz Chaudhry, another lawyer, Syed Rafaqat Ali Shah, was engaged. He informed the court that he was hired by the office of Advocate Waheed, who however, denied giving instructions to the late Chaudhry or Ali Shah, and claimed he had not met the petitioners, though he had communicated with one, Advocate Kosain Faisal.

During the proceedings, Chief Justice Isa expressed concern about the seriousness with which the counsel approached the case and questioned the rationale behind filing what he termed “bogus petitions” when the case was of public interest. He stressed that such actions undermine the judicial system, which could no longer be manipulated as in the past.