Pemra asked to take action against journalist for ridiculing parliament
ISLAMABAD: Severely criticising the use of “filthy and abusive language” against lawmakers by a journalist during a TV talk show, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani directed his Secretariat on Thursday to ask Pemra to take action against the `said person’.
The two-page ruling was read out by Mr Rabbani after a large number of senators spoke on points of order and severely criticised senior journalist Saleem Bokhari who, they said, had ridiculed the parliament as an institution by using what they called abusive language against lawmakers during the talk show on the ARY Channel on Oct 27.
Mr Rabbani ruled that Mr Bokhari had “committed contempt of parliament” and also asked the government, particularly the ministry of information and broadcasting, “to take up the matter with Pemra under intimation to this house”.
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Mr Rabbani, however, did not specify any rule or law under which the government or Pemra (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) could take action in this case.
“This is a very severe question where the parliament, without any cause or provocation, as an institution, has been abused, slandered and brought into disrepute, stricto senso it constitutes a severe breach of the privilege of parliament, and parliament will be well within its constitutional and legal right to proceed against such person or individual in the manner provided for under the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012,” said Mr Rabbani.
“It is correct that Article 19 of the Constitution, 1973, provides for freedom of speech, but it is also provided in the said Article ‘subject to any reasonable restrictions’ imposed by law,” Mr Rabbani said, adding: “Article 19 guarantees the right of freedom of expression of a citizen of Pakistan but it does not grant him a licence for the use of abusive language.”
He directed the Senate secretary “to write a letter to Pemra conveying the gist of the discussion held in the house and also forwarding a copy of this ruling to take action under the law and the rules against the said person who has committed contempt of parliament, under intimation to the house”.
When contacted, Mr Saleem Bokhari conceded his mistake and said that he had already tendered an apology in the same TV show and was ready to do it again.
“I realised my mistake then and there and not only withdrew my words but also apologised in the same programme,” he said, adding that he “cannot even imagine of insulting or causing pain to any elected representative in my life”. He reiterated that even if any member of the parliament felt that he should apologise again, he was ready to do it.