Names of 282 journalists who accepted bribes from the information ministry are to be made public, the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan ordered on Monday, striking down the government’s argument for ‘secrecy’ of the official documents.
The list of 282 journalists would be uploaded on the SC website later in the day. This is the first time that any such list has come into light as in the past the secret fund of the information ministry was never made public. Another list of 155 journalists who received payments or gifts would also be made public later.
The order of the SC came during the hearing of the case pertaining to petitions filed by two private television channel anchors who had requested the court to probe the matter of media accountability and payments made to journalists by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)- led government in 2011-2012.
Earlier last year, the court had begun itsprobe and sought information and froze the funds of the information ministry after the petitioners had requested an end to the ‘secret funds’ of the information ministry. The information ministry had denied the allegations at the time.
Later this year, the apex court found out that that the federal information ministry had distributed gifts worth millions from its secret funds among a few journalists during the year 2011-12. The court also learnt that on March 16, former prime minister Raja Parvez Ashraf had approved a summary sanctioning payment of over Rs1.32 billion for media campaigns.