A campaign on the electronic media perceived to be anti-judiciary and allegedly sponsored by a ruling coalition partner invited the ire of the Supreme Court that ordered the information ministry on Wednesday to initiate action to ensure the dignity of judiciary. “There is an effort in the media to let down the Supreme Court and the high court which we will not allow,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Amir Hani Muslim said. The court was hearing the National Insurance Company (NICL) scam case that also involves Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, son of PML-Q leader and former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi. The PML-Q has recently joined the PPP-led ruling coalition. In its order, the bench observed that the campaign against the judiciary on the electronic media was being run with an intention to bring the authority of the court and the administration of law into disrespect and disrepute to interrupt or prejudice the process of the law and due course of judicial proceedings. It said the advertisements were being regularly televised on the wish of a specific group that appeared to have interest in one of the NICL cases relating to Lahore. It asked the information secretary to initiate steps to ensure that the dignity of the judiciary was not undermined in any manner. The advertisement campaign run by almost all private television channels shows Moonis Elahi pleading innocence, seeking justice and vowing to face consequences for a just cause. “The media should also realise that money is not everything, rather national interest and strengthening of the institutions should always be considered,” the chief justice said, adding that the court was not scared of the campaign. The court ordered Interior Secretary Akbar Khawaja not to take any action against the Federal Investigation Agency’s Additional Director General Zafar Ahmed Qureshi without its permission. Mr Qureshi is allegedly facing the government’s wrath for going after Moonis Elahi and recovering Rs1.78 billion from different people involved in the scam. The court suspended a fresh departmental inquiry against him and observed that the proceedings had been started despite a restraining order. “Tell your government that the court can go to any extent in protecting an honest officer,” the chief justice told Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq. “All such notices or communications issued to Zafar Qureshi till date are suspended and the secretary, interior, or any other authority competent in this behalf is restrained from proceeding departmentally against Zafar Qureshi without prior permission of this court in future.” On July 7, the court had restrained the FIA from taking disciplinary action the official faced because of a television interview. Mr Qureshi was suspended on July 4. On July 1, the court had ordered his reinstatement in the FIA to resume investigation into the NICL scam. The attorney general informed the court that its July 7 orders had been communicated to FIA Director General Tahseen Anwar Shah, requiring him to cancel the transfer notifications of Deputy Director Dr Javed Hussain, Assistant Director Mohammad Ahmed, Assistant Director Khalid Anees and Inspector Mohammad Sarwar. These officers were part of Mr Qureshi’s team investigating the scandal and had been transferred to different stations. The court asked the attorney general to contact the FIA chief and inform it why the transfers had not been cancelled. The AG later told the court that the director general had gone to the UK on an official assignment on July 11 and acting DG Manzoor Chaudhry was attending a federal cabinet meeting in Quetta. The court noted that the DG had left the country without complying with its orders. The court ordered the acting director general to comply with the orders and place on record the required notifications by Thursday. Referring to allegations of political interference in court affairs, the chief justice said a high court judge could be appointed to probe into the matter but refrained from issuing an order in this regard.
Dawn News