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Session Court dismisses petition seeking registration of FIR against journalist

Journalists should not be penalized for criticizing public bodies in good faith: Session Judge

ISLAMABAD: Rawalpindi Session Court has dismissed a writ petition seeking registration of FIR against a senior journalist – Gulzar Khan – for publishing a news story about the alleged irregularities in the results of the intermediate examination of the Rawalpindi Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE).

After the refusal of registration of FIR against the senior journalist by Police, the Assistant Controller of Secrecy Branch BISE filed a petition under section 22-A of Cr. P.C in the court for the registration of a criminal case against a senior journalist.

The petitioner accused that the journalist on 28-10-2021 had published bogus news about the secrecy branch regarding results of intermediate and published official secretes of the board, which has damaged the reputation of BISE and its officials.

Additional Session Judge, Javed Iqbal Sipra, dismissed the petition on December 10, 2021, and stated in its verdict that the persons associated with journalism should not be penalized for criticizing the performance of public departments in good faith.

The order further states that BISE Rawalpindi as well as petitioners had the right to inquire about the illegal activities of its officials and in this regards an inquiry has already been initiated.

When contacted, Senior Journalist Gulzar Khan said, the BISE officials were putting pressure to disclose the source of the news, as it was regarding the favour given the son of the Chairman Board in the result. He added, his news was found correct after the official announcement of the result, and the result of the Chairman’s Son was as he reported, despite that the BISE was asking for the sources rather than initiating inquiry against the officials who manipulated the result. Court order is the victory of all journalists, Khan maintained.

Naveed Qureshi –In-charge Rawalpindi Press Club – said, sources are basically the asset of the journalists and if by after the pressure from any department, the journalist discloses his source, then no one will share any information with any media person in future.

He added news of the journalist Gulzar Khan was found correct despite that the department was asking for a source instead of taking action against the corrupt elements of their own department.

In another incident, Syed Qamar Abbas – a journalist based in Taxila, Tehsil of Rawalpindi – informed the police that on December 17, 2021, he received a call from a “private number” and the caller threaten him for serious consequences for reporting on local issued.

While talking with “The Reporters” he said, after an investigation by the police and personal sources it was clear that the caller was not belonging to any investigation agency, but was using any phone application for call.

Nadeem Tanoli – Vice President, Rawalpindi Journalist Association – said, pressurising journalists through Police and other law enforcement agencies is not a new tactic, department often practice such things but these can’t stop journalism.

He said, in the Gulzar Khan case, the journalist bodies have shown unity and a large number of journalists were present in the court to attend the hearing and to express solidarity with the senior journalist.

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