Electronic and print media are known to be most
effective source of knowledge, mostly in urban areas and this may be true as
well. There can be difference of opinion, but I believe both, electronic and print
media in our society have turned out to be most irresponsible wings, as well.
Though PEMRA is the regulatory watchdog, but because of certain visible
reasons, PEMRA has proven itself to be ineffective or at least it has no
deterrent control over media. Where the entire society is bearing its onslaught
in the sense that respect of no individual irrespective of his class and
dignity of no department irrespective of sensitivity, is under constant and
serious threat, at the same time we have witnessed in the recent past that our
superior judiciary had also become under siege by the media.
In fact by passage of time since the electronic media has captured massive coverage all over the world, the media has started to think as if they even carry the mandate to make and break the governments and that they have the authority to twist country’s policy matters and to make most, if not all, the departments run at their will. To some extent this impression appears to be correct as well.
Coming to the subject, we have witnessed that the Chief Justice Pakistan was seen visiting the Hospitals, Laboratories, etcetera, and even the subordinate courts during work hours, with prearranged media teams, by allowing them to live telecast his events or at least to cover and record his activities, which subsequently became most discussed issues in our electronic as also in social media. Since black coat revolution (movement by legal fraternity against General Musharraf’s actions including removal of Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s era, CJP.), the words and even expressions of the judges of superior judiciary caught the attention of our electronic media and primetime of almost all TV channels constantly were used to debate, discuss and draw their own inferences from ongoing court proceedings, ultimately developing public perception much before the court verdict. This was the start of unending in-root of media in our courts. Afterwards, the court reporters became permanent audience of court proceedings, thus obiter dicta (remarks, expressions or passing references made by the judges during the course of hearing or becoming part of the orders/judgments, though may not be directly relevant with the case in issue) got FrontPage headlines in the print media and it formed breaking news in the electronic media, with far reaching impacts on the society as well as on the working of courts. To be fair enough, one can say the judiciary started to get influenced by media and this trend at occasions has resulted in deviation from the settled judicial norms, which has done no good to any limb of the state, rather added to the agony. What we have learnt or we were told, the courts were not supposed to entangle in worldly temptations or express out of text remarks. We were also told that if Judge shouts in courts, he himself can be held guilty of contempt of court, but now the scenario has changed altogether and real concern is that neither the judiciary nor the bar has felt the pinch. Still nothing is lost if the bar and bench themselves decide either not allow the media to cover court proceedings, and if they cannot be restricted then pre-mature talk shows in relation to inconclusive court proceedings must be controlled. One can just wish sanity prevails.