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Preserving Constitutional Roles: Recent Developments

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In a noteworthy response to recent events, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa has underscored the importance of adhering to constitutional roles and responsibilities. The Chief Justice expressed his concern over the involvement of the judiciary in matters that should have been addressed by the President and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). These remarks come in the wake of petitions seeking to determine the date for the upcoming general elections. Chief Justice Isa emphasized the need to respect the constitutional jurisdictions of the President and the ECP, maintaining that such matters should not have been unnecessarily brought to the court.

The detailed order issued by the Supreme Court reflects the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the democratic framework and the balance of power among various state institutions. It also raises pertinent questions about the role of social media in governance and the responsible exercise of freedom of the press.

The Supreme Court’s directive to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to determine the election date in consultation with the President prompted reflection on how state affairs are managed and the influence of social media in decision-making processes. The inclusion of the President as a respondent in one of the petitions, based on a social media post seeking the ECP’s views, led the court to question whether governance should be influenced by social media messaging.

The court’s order also delved into the issue of freedom of the press, acknowledging its vital role while highlighting instances where this freedom has been misused to spread disinformation and undermine democracy. It stressed the importance of responsible journalism and the need to combat disinformation, which poses a substantial threat to democratic norms and human rights.

The order also recognized the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) role in regulating content that incites disruption of the democratic setup, emphasizing the need to maintain public trust in democratic institutions. This is essential for a thriving democracy and robust citizen engagement.

On a positive note, the court appreciated media professionals who perform their duties professionally and truthfully, highlighting the pivotal role of the media in informing the public and promoting transparency. The order concluded by citing a study by the European Parliament, which shed light on the broader implications of disinformation, emphasizing its detrimental impact on democratic quality and human rights.

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