ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday (25 April 2013) rejected a request from Raza Rumi and certain other journalists for removal of secret funds list from its website. A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, resumed hearing of identical petitions filed by two journalists for the constitution of a media commission. A large number of senior anchor-persons and journalists were present in the court.
It may be noted that Raza Rumi is a blogger at Najam Sethi’s TFT blog and also owns PTH blog. He is the current director of Sherry Rehman’s Jinnah Institute which is alleged to be financed by the ISI via Tameer Bank.
Justice Jawwad Khwajaa observed that it was the demand of the media to issue that list and now if they were publishing it with a different angle, we cannot dictate them. He further observed that another list was about to come.
Senior journalist Hamid Mir said money had also been taken from the Special Publicity Funds and some other funds. Justice Jawwad said they would welcome everyone who came forward.
Salman Akram Raja submitted that his client (Raza Ahmad alias Raza Rumi) was a renowned journalist and his name was wrongly added to the first list. A senior anchor stated that the label on this list was more damaging to the people.
Justice Jawwad observed that nothing should be kept secret, as it was the public exchequer and every fund should be auditable. The AG submitted that legally these funds were not auditable. The court asked him to produce the audit report on the next date of hearing and adjourned the case till May 2.
The bench refused requests to remove the list while routine expenditure was made separately available in a list marked promotional expenses or otherwise and not secret fund. Justice Khilji Arif Hussain made it clear that they did not observe that the journalists, whose names were mentioned in the list, had done anything wrong. He said the names in ‘List-A’ were not secret funds at all, but ‘Special Publicity Funds.’ Regarding the list ‘B’ in respect of items on which privilege/secrecy is being claimed by the Ministry of Information, and which has been filed before the bench, Justice Khilji revealed that no name of any journalist was mentioned in the list B. It is to be noted that the list ‘B’ is meant to contain 174 items on which a sum of Rs 8,68,13,633/- has been spent. Justice Jawwad S Khawaja also observed that the court had made the list ‘A’ of special publicity funds public after verifying and certifying that the secretary ministry of information had signed off on it. He said the court’s objective was only that people should be aware of where their money was being used. The court granted three weeks to Auditor General for Pakistan for auditing the Special Publicity Funds, which have been colloquially labelled as secret funds. AGP Irfan Qadir told the bench that he was asked by the information ministry to defend it by claiming privilege on the list ‘B’. The hearing of the case was adjourned until May 2.
Millions paid from secret fund but billions not revealed – by Usman Manzoor
Source: The News, April 23, 2013 (Reporter: Usman Manzoor)
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has released the list of journalists, media houses and the staff of the ministry of information who benefited from the secret fund of the information ministry. The secret fund runs into billions but the Supreme Court has only been told about the details of Rs177.98 million of which a major chunk has been paid to the Institute of Regional Studies. Questions are being raised where those billions were spent and why the details of the entire fund have not been released. The initial reaction in the media circles was one of extreme displeasure as the lists were called eyewash and a fraud as no big names were disclosed and over 90 per cent of the funds were kept secret.
The list shows a sorry tale of what our governments do with the national heroes as singer Reshman was paid Rs25,000 only while the so-called journalists who are a black spot on the face of journalism have been paid millions from the secret funds to manipulate the media.
The list includes the names of Raza Rumi, Saleh Zaafir, Ali Ahmad Dihlon and Mr and Mrs Adeeb Jawadani who were facilitated in boarding and lodging in Islamabad Hotel on 06-08-2011.
It is pertinent to mention here that whenever the journalists or analysts are invited to Islamabad or any other city to attend any seminar, convention, programme, workshop etc arranged by any government department/ministry, the budget of such programme is always approved and is never secret. However when any influential journalist has to visit any of these cities for his personal engagements, such money is issued from the secret fund of the information ministry and is shown as boarding/lodging in this list.
Similarly all foreign visits of the prime ministers are approved and total expenses are meted out from the sanctioned budget. However, the journalists who are included in the list of those who would accompany the PM at the last stage, their expenses are meted out from the secret fund of the information ministry.
Taking exception to appearance of his name in the list, Saleh Zaafir said it is not based on truth. He said he would challenge the mentioning of his name in the list in the Supreme Court. He said how he could be paid by the government that did not like him.
Raza Rumi too made similar claims that the list was not based on truth. On Twitter, there were further allegations that Raza Rumi’s recent flights to Burssels and India were not paid through his own pocket.
سپریم کورٹ نے میڈیا کمیشن کی تشکیل کیلئے دائر درخواستوں کی سماعت کے دوران سینئر اینکر اور صحافیوں کی جانب سے سپریم کورٹ کی ویب سائٹ پر خفیہ فنڈ سے متعلق فہرست ہٹانے کی استدعا مسترد کر دی۔ جسٹس جواد ایس خواجہ کی سربراہی میں تین رکنی بنچ نے سماعت کی، عدالت میں پرنٹ اور الیکٹرانک میڈیا سے تعلق رکھنے والے اینکر پرسنز اور صحافیوں کی ایک بڑی تعداد موجود تھی، وزارت اطلاعات کے خفیہ فنڈ سے رقم لینے والے صحافیوں کی فہرست میں نام آنے والے کئی صحافیوں نے عدالت میں درخواستیں دائر کی ہیں سلمان اکرم راجہ نے دلائل دیتے ہوئے کہا کہ عدالت مختصر حکم جاری کرے تاکہ جن لوگوں پر گند اچھالا گیا ہے وہ صاف ہو جائیں، انہوں نے عدالت سے استدعا کی کہ سپریم کورٹ کی ویب سائٹ سے سیکرٹ فنڈ لینے والے صحافیوں کی فہرست ہٹائی جائے جسٹس جواد کا کہنا تھا کہ سب کہتے ہیں کہ فہرست سامنے آنی چاہیے، اب اگر کوئی میڈیا والے اسے دوسرے رنگ میں لے کر شائع کرتا ہے تو ہم اس کو کنٹرول نہیں کر سکتے، جسٹس جواد نے کہا کہ ابھی تو صرف ایک فہرست آئی ہے، جسٹس خلجی عارف نے کہا کہ گھبرانے کی ضرورت نہیں، دوسری فہرست میں کسی بھی شخص کا نام نہیں ہے، ان کا کہنا تھا کہ اگر کوئی بیرون ملک دورے پر گیا ہے تو عدالت نے کہا لکھا ہے کہ ایسا کرنا گناہ ہے۔ وکیل سلمان اکرم راجہ نے کہا کہ ان کے موکل ایک سینئر صحافی ہیں لیکن ان کا نام بھی غلط طور پر اس فہرست میں آگیا ہے جس کے اوپر سیکرٹ فنڈ کا لیبل لگا ہوا ہے، جسٹس جواد نے کہا کہ ہم کہتے ہیں کوئی چیز سیکرٹ نہیں ہونی چاہیے اور ہر فنڈ کا آڈٹ ہونا چاہیے
Mr. Fraudiye: Dedicated to all pro-establishment journalists
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