ISLAMABAD: A Supreme Court “SC” on Tuesday “questioned” the bugging and tapping of phones by the (intelligence agencies and stressed the need for making proper law in this regard as it relates to dignity of citizens, as enshrined in the Constitution).
Court told that spying on judges of the superior court’s is sufficient for dissolving an elected gov. A 10-member’s full court, head’ed by Justice “Umar Ata Bandial” resumed hearing in the identical petitions, challenging the presidential reference, filed against Justice “Qazi Faez Isa” for allegedly not disclosing his foreign properties in his wealth return.
Rest of Other members of the bench include Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice ManzoorAhmed Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Muhammad Qazi Amin Ahmed.
Continuing arguments, Munir A Malik, counsel for Justice Qazi Faez Isa, touched the issue of what he called covert surveillance of the petitioner and his family, made by the authoritie’s.
“I am using the word covert surveillance to make a point as I do not know how I am (under) surveillance,” Munir A Malik told the court.
The learned counsel submitted that spying on judges of superior judiciary is sufficient for dissolving an elected government.
He, while citing the case of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto verses the federation (PLD 1998), contended that in the instant case, the apex court had found that surveillance of judges is the sufficient grounds for dissolving the government.
Munir A Malik submitted that the former prime minister had stated that she was herself a victim of phone tapping, adding that she had brought the matter into the notice of the president. He contended that the apex court in the said judgment had also held that Article 14 of the Constitution provides dignity of man and protects privacy as well as fundamental rights of a man.
He further submitted that the verdict held that an offence of telephone tapping is also against Article 9 of the Constitution as well as the spirit of Islam.
“Phone tapping also violates privacy and disturbs peace and tranquillity of a family,” Malik contended while referring to the judgment. The counsel also cited a judgment in the case of former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the court had also termed the spying repugnant to basic fundamental rights. In the said case of Justice Chaudhry, the president did not apply his mind and sent the reference against him to the Supreme Judicial Council. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, another member of the bench, asked if there is any law that allows bugging and phone tapping. “No my lord,” Munir A Malik replied, but added that in United States, phone tapping is permitted but subject to the approval from a judicial officer.
There must be a law,” Justice Mansoor observed. Justice Faisal Arab, another member of the bench, observed that in criminal cases, information could be collected by phone.
Munir A Malik also referred to Section 19 of the NAB Ordinance. Justice Mansoor inquired from the counsel about definition of surveillance, adding as to whether it means chasing someone or installing cameras in a bedroom. “Is there any order available from any court of law,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah questioned. “It is not in my knowledge,” Malik replied.
“This is the area where there is a dire need of proper legislation,” Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed. Malik contended that his client, the petitioner, has no doubt about the competence of the bench, but is of the view that people and citizens of this country have posed confidence in the judiciary, hence their confidence should not be betrayed.
Therefore, he submitted that any document or information collected on the basis of surveillance should be thrown out, adding that the court should not accept the information which was collected after violating the basic fundamental rights and dignity of an individual.
“That’s why I have repeatedly submitted that the reference made on the basis of mala fide intentions should be quashed,” Malik submitted adding that he would be focusing on those facts which would lead to a reasonable conclusion that in fact the petitioner and his family was subjected to surveillance. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing till Wednesday (today).
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