ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Justice Athar Minallah emphasized the importance of judges remaining unaffected by social media influence, stating that if a judge is impacted by it, they are violating their oath.
Speaking at the second law bridge workshop on superior court reporting in Islamabad, Justice Minallah urged critics to trust the judiciary while highlighting the need for constructive criticism.
Addressing the issue of freedom of speech in the country, Justice Minallah noted that censorship in Pakistan began after the state censored Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s August 11, 1947 speech.
Recounting his early experiences as a judge, he recalled a bail plea involving a 16-year-old suspect who had put up a banner against an apex court judge. The judge stressed the importance of upholding journalistic ethics, advising reporters to refrain from violating privacy or misreporting.
Justice Minallah highlighted the challenges of controlling opinion expression in the technological era, acknowledging that states struggle to manage it. He cautioned vlogging reporters, noting their economic interests, and urged them to maintain balance in their comments.
Reflecting on his stance during the discussion of the 18th constitutional amendment, Justice Minallah revealed his opinion that the Supreme Court should not interfere in constitutional amendments. He recounted an incident where his statement was misinterpreted in the media, leading to false headlines. Despite pressure to take action, he chose not to, standing by his initial remarks.
Drawing attention to the dangers of curbing freedom of expression, Justice Minallah cited the example of former Ugandan president Idi Amin, emphasizing that society is damaged when freedom of expression is stifled.