LAHORE – Lahore High Court Chief Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed welcomed media’s criticism on the workings of judiciary and acknowledged the sacrifices rendered by the reporters in the line of duty.

Addressing a seminar titled “Court reporting and media ethics” at Punjab Judicial Academy on Friday, the chief justice said: “We (judges) welcome positive criticism of the media but can’t accept living in a graveyard, which is marked silence and where there is no one to point out our mistakes… I ask you (reporters) to provide authentic information to the masses, as it is their basic right.”

Other members of judiciary present at the event also welcomed the criticism by media on judiciary’s acts but stressed that it should be in a responsible manner. “Responsible press is not possible through legislation. The media should exercise responsibility at its own as it cannot be forced upon them,” the chief justice remarked.

Speaking about media’s role in Pakistan, the CJ-LHC said that freedom being enjoyed by media was a result of countless sacrifices made by journalists. He expressed regret that journalists in the country were punished with lashes, sent to jail and even killed for fulfilling their fundamental duty. The CJ added that countries cannot make progress without free press and judiciary and said: “The media and judiciary of Pakistan are passing from a transition period and all issues demand rationality in finding their solutions”. Talking about court verdicts, the CJ said that information about court decisions should reach the public through media as judiciary uses its authority on their behalf.

“No one should try to conceal information as it would only be a foolish attempt in today’s world. Every citizen of Pakistan has a right to access information as he too is a stakeholder in the governments and institutions.”

The chief justice stressed that the judiciary believed in open court proceedings and it was mandatory that the trials be open to the public so they would come to know about them. He further said that vibrant and a bit aggressive media has become a reality in the 21st century which cannot be ignored, but the information it imparted should be kept in context for a positive way forward. Justice Azmat Saeed pointed out that Contempt of Court law is also a man-made law, which is aimed at removing hurdles to the provision of justice.

The CJ stressed the need of regular interaction with media to avoid confusions and said that media should attach court remarks when reporting a verdict, as sometime they are of more value than the verdict itself.

Speaking on the occasion, Press Council of Pakistan Chairman Shafqat M Abbasi emphasised the need for capacity building of journalistic reporting on court issues.

Judicial Academy Chairman Justice (r) Tanveer Ahmad Khan, Senior Journalist Saeed Aasi, Lahore Bar Association President Chaudhry Zulifqar Ali also spoke on the occasion.