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LHC links action under defamation law sections with final verdict

LHC links action under defamation law sections with final verdict

Pakistan

Petitioner says Defamation Act 2024 against independence of judiciary, freedom of expression

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LAHORE (Dunya News) – The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday linked any action on three sections of the Punjab Defamation Law 2024 with final verdict of court.
LHC’s Justice Amjad Rafique conducted hearing on the application filed by two journalists through Advocate Nadeem Sarwar.

The applicants’ lawyer told the court that the Defamation Act 2024 was against the independence of judiciary and freedom of expression.

According to the Act, the chief justice can suggest names of three judges as tribunal. The government can reject these names and seek new names instead.

Advocate Sarwar further said the suggestion of the chief justice could not be rejected rather it should be fully acted upon. “The Act allows the Punjab government to suggest judges’ names as tribunal and the LHC chief justice can finalise one name,” he said while objecting that it couldn’t happen as the government could not interfere in the matters of the judiciary.

Citing the examples of banking and service tribunals, Justice Amjad Rafique said the tribunals followed orders of the government of the day instead of the judiciary.

To add more weight to his arguments, the plaintiffs’ lawyer said the salaries of judges would be fixed by the government which was also an infringement on the independence of judiciary.

Justice Rafique asked the lawyer how this Act was against the independence of judiciary and fundamental human rights to which he responded that “one can initiate cases against someone without any shred of evidence.”

“It’s wrong if you bring a chief minister to court,” said Justice Rafique. The lawyer riposted that then the CM shouldn’t tell lies like Information Minsiter Azma Bokhari who does it from dawn to dusk.

Elaborating further on his arguments, the lawyer stated that a suspect would pay Rs3 million even without trial. Justice said it’s permitted under law and imperative for expeditious justice.

The government’s counsel told the court about recent appointments of judges which were made after consultation between the LHC and the government.

At the conclusion of Tuesday’s hearing, Justice Rafique remarked that the government could not raise objections to the names suggested by the chief justice by saying that those names were not liked by a particular minister as “this isn’t a barter system.”

He also referred to the questions of the applicants’ lawyer that seek answers to the procedure of formation of tribunals and consultation between the court and the government.

The court issued notices to the Attorney General for Pakistan and the Advocate General Punjab for assisting court while linking action on sections 3, 5 and 8 with court’s final verdict.

The LHC adjourned the proceedings until a date to be decided later and sought replies from the Punjab government and others.