IHC directs PEMRA to decide application
Islamabad – The Islamabad High Court yesterday directed Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to decide an application seeking cancellation of a private TV channel’s licence within ten days.
A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq conducted the petition of Shohada Foundation of Pakistan Trust (SFPT) moved against a private news channel ARY seeking its licence cancellation for allegedly spreading falsehood connecting Lal Masjid with December 02, 2015 San Bernardino, California, shooting where 14 persons were killed and 21 others got injured.
The court also observed that the petitioner could again approach the bench if PEMRA fails to take action as per his application.
After issuing the abovementioned directions, the IHC single bench disposed of the matter.
The SFPT of Lal Masjid through its trustee Hafiz Ihtsham Ahmad has filed this petition while Tariq Asad Advocate represented him in the court.
The counsel for SFPT Tariq Asad Advocate contended that ARY news channel on December 04 while connecting California shooting accused Tashfeen Malik with Lal Masjid, broadcasted live transmission for one and half hours. He argued that the said broadcast not only harmed national integrity but also the reputation of Maulana Abdul Aziz and the religious seminaries all over the world. He further argued before the court that this is a matter of grave importance and the PEMRA did not take any notice of the situation.
The petitioner adopted before the IHC that Federal Minister for Interior Ch Nisar Ali Khan in a press conference had said “the pictures of Tashfeen Malik connecting her with Lal Masjid were found fictitious and the intelligence report reveals that neighbouring country is involved in the conspiracy.”
Referring to this statement, the petitioner alleged that it could be inferred from that statement that ARY News channel has links with RAW as only ARY had reported the story.
He continued that Maulana Abdul Aziz in an interview with media on December 04, 2015 had categorically stated that he has no connection whatsoever with Tashfeen Malik and he has never even been photographed with his own wife and daughters lest he could have been photographed with a na-mahram (a person with whom one can marry in Islam).
Challenging accusations of having connections with the alleged California shooting terrorists, the SFPT has cited the federation through secretary ministry of information, PEMRA, and ARY television through its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Salman Iqbal as respondents.
The petitioner’s counsel said that it has been alleged by the US government that a woman namely Tashfeen Malik and her American husband Rizwan Farook rushed into a year-end party on December 2, 2015 in San Bernardino, California, and opened fire at Rizwan Farook’s co-workers that consequently killed at least 14 persons and injured 21.
He said that on December 4, 2015 ARY television channel created hype in a live programme, in a clandestine manner that the aforesaid alleged invaders /terrorists had connections with Lal Masjid and photographs of Tashfeen with Maulana Abdul Aziz had been recovered from her house.
He added that ARY TV in the said programme exploited Maulana Abdul Aziz with the mala fide intention to instigate the people of Pakistan, armed forces as well as the government of Pakistan against Lal Masjid and Maulana Abdul Aziz.
The counsel stated that ARY programme has sternly instigated the people against Maulana Aziz demanding once again to launch operation against Lal Masjid. He contended that the contents of false allegations broadcasted by the ARY served ulterior motive of USA to defame the Muslim Ummah generally and Pakistan specifically.
Therefore, the petitioner prayed to the court to direct PEMRA to cancel the licence of ARY News and take action against those who are responsible in the conspiracy.
He further requested that a judicial commission may be formed to probe the connections of ARY television channels with foreign countries and their intelligence agencies.