Government TV to be used to ridicule judiciary
By: Ahmad Noorani
ISLAMABAD: Following strict orders from two high courts not to violate the Constitution by attacking and abusing judges in TV programmes and press conferences and the cancellation of a press conference in Rawalpindi, the PPP government has decided to use the state-owned TV channel for the purpose as now most private TV channels are reluctant to do the job.
The PPP government decision to use PTV, according to credible reports, has not been taken in good taste by a few in the Information Ministry and in state-owned TV channel but the government is adamant to go ahead with its designs.
Senior PTV officials were repeatedly contacted by The News but no official was ready to come on record for confirmation of the fact which they admit unofficially. Last week, Islamabad High Court (IHC) had directed Pemra to ensure that no TV channel violated the Constitution by attacking, criticizing, ridiculing the institution of judiciary or the person of a judge.
The IHC was hearing a petition filed by a citizen Nadeem Ahmad and in its October 15, 2012 hearing the court ordered the Pemra to produce record of the actions taken by the authority against the TV channels and programmes which spit venom against the institution of judiciary and person of the judges.
The IHC held on Monday that judges of the superior judiciary could only give their version or point of view on any matter or allegation on the platform of Supreme Judicial Council. The court held that attacking judges or levelling allegations against them without following the pattern defined in the Constitution is uncalled for and a punishable offence and is tantamount to breach of the Constitution.
Chairman Pemra Dr Jabbar admitted before the court on Monday that running any programme insulting or ridiculing the superior judiciary was against the conditions of the license issued to different TV channels and broadcasters. Federal Secretary Information Chaudhry Rasheed also acknowledged before the IHC on October 15 that no channel could air any programme, which ridiculed or attacked the judiciary.
In its last week order, the IHC had held: “This court is conscious of the fact that none is above the law and if, allegations of misconduct against any judge of the superior courts are there, interested persons may opt for the mechanism provided Under Article 209 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and any device alien to organic law of the country can be termed as nothing but an attempt to abrogate the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”
The order also passed clear instructions, “Respondent No.2 (Pemra), is directed to ensure that no program containing uncommendable, malicious and wicked material is telecast by any of the channels in which person of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan and other Honourable Judges of the superior courts are criticized, ridiculed and defamed.”
Besides this, Lahore High Court also passed clear orders on Tuesday barring electronic media channels to air programmes defamatory towards judiciary.Moreover, Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan on Monday said that an organised conspiracy was being hatched against the judiciary.
While the selected lot in the media gave PPP government’s henchman a free hand, the Constitution does not allow anyone to ridicule or disrespect the judiciary or a judge even inside the Parliament but such constitutional provisions are being blatantly violated with impunity both by the media and the PPP leaders.