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A judge who is affected by social media, violates his oath: Athar Minallah

Athar Minallah

ISLAMABAD, JAN 20 /DNA/ – Supreme Court Justice Athar Minallah on Saturday said social media should not influence judges, adding that if a judge is affected by it then they are violating their oath.

Addressing the second law bridge workshop on superior court reporting at a private hotel in Islamabad, Justice Minallah said if even critics trusted the court then it was a test of the judiciary. Everyone should criticise, but also trust the judiciary, he maintained.

Referring to the lack of freedom of speech in the country, the top court judge said the endless process of censor kicked off after the state’s censoring Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech.

Reminiscing his first case as a judge, he said it was a bail plea and a 16-year-old suspect was before the court for putting up a banner against an apex court judge. The subordinate court rejected the plea saying he had committed a crime against the entire judiciary, he said adding that nobody tried to find out who got the banners made.

The SC judge said Pakistan would not have been split into two, if the oath was not transgressed.

He said the states could not control the expression of opinion in the technological era. However, he said the reporters doing vlogging have an economic interest too therefore they should maintain balance in their comments.

Justice Minallah said he did not consider himself worthy of telling a reporter what his ethics were.

However, he advised the journalists that revealing the identity of a child or woman or misreporting something was a violation of the journalism’s ethics, he said adding that he learnt a great deal of journalism from court reporters.

“When the matter of 18th constitutional amendment was raised, many forces were against it. A reporter asked me, what will the Supreme Court do about the 18th Amendment? I replied ‘in my opinion, the SC should not interfere in the constitutional amendment’,” he said.

The apex court judge said he had said he would resign if the 18th amendment was annulled and the next day news was published that “Athar Minallah has threatened the court”.

Senior lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan asked him to do something against the news, but he said no that’s what he had said, he added.

Citing former Ugandan president and the modern world history’s most brutal dictator, Idi Amin, Justice Minallah said, “A society is ruined, if someone gags freedom of expression like Idi Amin.”=DNA

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