The Supreme Court (SC) larger bench headed by Justice Umar Atta Bandial on Monday 'held in abeyance' the order of a division bench on an application against media persons' harassment.
The larger bench issued notices to the attorney general of Pakistan (AGP), Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president, and Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman for legal assistance in regards to how the suo motu matter should be entertained.
The bench also raised questions on the manner in which suo motu was taken by a division bench led by Justice Qazi Faez Isa regarding media protection.
SCBA President Lateef Afridi appearing before the bench and said that lawyers feel that there is division in the apex court.
“We want a united Supreme Court,” he added.
However, Justice Bandial remarked that there is difference of opinion among SC judges but there are no differences.
“However with your [SCBA President] satisfaction, we will sit together,” said Justice Bandial.
Afridi also requested the bench to form full court to hear this matter, to which Justice Bandial said that all judges are not available during the current week.
Read: SC constitutes five-member larger bench to hear journalists' harassment case
The judge further noted that according to the division bench's direction, same bench would hear the journalists’ protection case on August 26 but that bench is not available and added said that they want to protect the rights of the journalists in accordance with the law.
Justice Bandial also questioned as to whether the applicant could approach the bench directly. The hearing of case is adjourned until Wednesday.
On Friday, the top court summoned the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general over his department allegedly harassing media personnel.
"The FIA appears to have overstepped its legal mandate and … undermined the peoples’ confidence in the judiciary, which is the guarantor of fundamental rights,” read a five-page order authored by Justice Qazi Faez Isa over an application submitted by the Press Association of Supreme Court (PAS).
“By such tactics, the respect, regard and confidence of the people in the judiciary may be undermined and [it] may also be disrespected and portrayed as standing with FIA,” it added.
Read more: FIA DG told to explain journos’ ‘harassment’
Earlier this month, the FIA had arrested two senior journalists in Lahore for their "disrespectful attitude" against the Pakistan Army, the judiciary and women.
In a statement, it added that the two suspects had been released on bail while the investigation against them would continue.
The SC noted that the FIA DG, whose permission was necessary for issuance of the statement, should disclose who authorised it mentioning the word “judiciary” and submit to the court a written explanation about why he did not retract it later.
"The FIA DG is also directed to be present in-person in court along with the entire original record of the cases against journalists in respect of whom the press release was issued and is further directed to submit a complete list of cases filed against journalists,” the order read.
“[The] list should specify the actual content -- that is the transcript of the text -- which the FIA deemed to constitute an offence," it added.
The court also issued notice to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) through its chairman on complaints that journalists were not allowed to work freely and pursue their careers.