ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan today ordered the government to register a first information report (FIR) of the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial issued the directives today during the hearing of the suo motu notice of the journalist’s killing in Kenya, while the CJ also ordered the government to submit the report of the fact-finding committee today.
A five-member bench headed by CJ Umar Atta Bandial, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar is hearing the case.
The apex court in a statement announcing the suo motu action said “The journalist community in the country are deeply distressed and concerned about the death of the senior journalist and are seeking the court’s scrutiny of the matter.”
It had also announced that it would hold a hearing today.
The court had issued notices to the interior secretary, foreign secretary, information secretary, director generals of the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), Intelligence Bureau, and president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.
“Since receiving a letter from Arshad Sharif’s mother, the SC human rights cell is investigating the matter. The Interior Ministry had to submit a report of the fact-finding committee last Friday,” remarked the CJP.
He added that the court is yet to receive the report.
“Should we summon the interior minister? Where is the interior minister?” asked the CJP.
At this, the additional attorney general informed the court that the report will be submitted tomorrow.
“Wasting time in the investigation is the government’s habit, not the Supreme Court’s,” said the CJP in response.
“Why was Arshad Sharif murdered, and in a foreign country?” asked the CJ.
“Mr attorney general it’s been a long time since the fact-finding committee has returned, why has the final report of the commission not yet been received by the Supreme Court?” asked the top judge.
The CJ stated that the medical report the court received were “unsatisfactory”. He added that senior doctors prepared the medical report but it was not satisfactory.
“Mistreatment of journalists cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. In Pakistan, journalists are the voice of truth,” said Justice Bandial.
At this, the AAG intervened and informed the court that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah was in Faisalabad when the report came and once he sees it, the report will be forwarded to the apex court.
The CJ also added that the court was waiting for the report for more than 40 days, adding that the five-member bench was formed considering the seriousness of the situation.
“Since October 23, the court has only received medical reports,” said the CJ.
While Justice Ahsan noted that the journalist was murdered suspiciously in Kenya.
“What steps have the foreign ministry taken as of yet?” he asked.
Foreign Secretary Asad Majeed shared that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had spoken to the Kenyan president. He added that the Pakistani high commissioner in Kenya was also in touch with the relevant officials.
However, the official added that he was unaware of the progress made in the case so far.
After hearing the secretary, CJ Bandial wondered why a criminal case was not registered in Pakistan.
“How will the investigations in Pakistan be held when the FIR has not been registered?” asked the judge.
To this, the interior secretary told the court that the decision to file a case will be made after reviewing the fact-finding report.
However, Justice Mazahar Ali Naqvi and Justice Ahsan raised questions on the government’s approach in the case.
Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail remarked that it is a test case for the Foreign Ministry.
The court directed the registration of the FIR of the murder by tonight and also directed the ministry to submit the fact-finding committee’s report today.
After issuing the directives the case was adjourned till tomorrow.
Sharif was killed on the night of October 23 in Kenya by the Kenyan GSU officers in mysterious circumstances as he was being driven to Nairobi.