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LHC ordered PEMRA to stop airing speeches of Nawaz Sharif against judges

25 August, 2017

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LAHORE: Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh of the Lahore High Court on Thursday ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to stop airing of speeches of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders against courts and judges.

While hearing a petition against alleged anti-judiciary speeches delivered by Nawaz Sharif and other PML-N leaders following Panamagate case judgment, the court directed PEMRA Chairman Absar Alam to ensure compliance of PEMRA Ordinance 2002, its rules of 2009 and Media Code of Conduct, 2015.

The court also ordered PEMRA chairman to submit his reply till September 12.

The petition was filed by Amina Malik, who runs a civil society organization, with former premier Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq, State Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb, Nehal Hashmi, Pervaiz Rashid, Asif Kirmani, Abid Sher Ali, Maiza Hameed, Tariq Fazal Chaudhary, Talal Chaudhary, Mohsin Ranjha, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhary, Election Commission of Pakistan, speakers of National Assembly and Punjab Assembly and PEMRA chairman as respondents.

Petitioner’s counsel Azhar Siddique submitted that the leaders of the ruling PML-N had been using ‘contemptuous’ language against the judges of the Supreme Court who disqualified Nawaz Sharif and ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file references against Sharif family’s alleged corruption. He said that these leaders, including members of the federal and provincial cabinets, were showing aggression against the apex court in the wake of judgment in Panama case, which amounts to an attack on the independence of the judiciary.

He asserted that it was the constitutional obligation of the federal and provincial governments to respect and honour the judiciary and other state institutions. He alleged that the PEMRA had failed to stop airing of such speeches on electronic media.

The counsel said that PEMRA had failed to fulfill its duty as assigned under Article 19, 19-A read with PEMRA Ordinance 2002, rules and code of conduct for media. He requested to issue an appropriate direction to PEMRA to stop airing and telecasting the alleged contemptuous, derogatory and defamatory speeches made by Nawaz Sharif and others against the judges of the Supreme Court.

During the hearing, federal and provincial law officers objected to maintainability of the petition, calling it without substance. The government’s counsel also said that the issues raised in the instant petition were already pending before the Supreme Court and the court could not take up an already sub-judice matter.

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