IHC suspends acting Pemra chief -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

IHC suspends acting Pemra chief

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court ordered the suspension of Pervez Ra­tho­re, acting chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), and Kamaluddin Tipu, a member of the watchdog, on Tuesday .

The court issued the orders during the hearing of petitions seeking reinstatement of Chaudhry Abdul Rashid as Pemra chairman, suspension of private members, appointments of Rathore and Kamaluddin Tipu as member and subsequent appointment of Rathore as acting Pemra chairman and a contempt petition filed against the acting chairman.

The court heard argum­ents by Israr Ahmed Abbasi, a private member of Pemra, its counsel Mehmood A Sheikh and Rathore’s counsel Ahmad Hassan Rana.

After conclusion of arguments, it observed that the appointments of Mr Rathore and Mr Tipu were not made in accordance with the procedure laid down in the Pemra ordinance.

Pervez Rathore, who was appointed acting chairman on June 5, ordered the suspension of Geo News for 15 days and imposed a fine of Rs100 million on the channel for “defaming” the director general of the Inter Services Intelligence after an attempt on the life of TV anchor Hamid Mir on April 19. .

The court maintained that the two appointments were unlawful as they were made by the prime minister. It was a violation of the Pemra ordinance since it lays down that the appointment of members will be made by the President, and not by the prime minister.

Ahmad Hassan Rana, Rathore’s counsel, contended that although the summary for the appointment of his client had been addressed to the President, it erroneously mentioned the prime minister instead..

During the hearing Justice Qureshi observed that the behaviour of Ahmad Hassan Rana was against the decorum of the court and issued him a show cause notice. However, the show cause notice was later withdrawn at the request of counsel Mehmood A. Sheikh.

Hearing the contempt plea, Justice Qureshi asked the acting chairman of Pemra how he interpreted the June 9 orders that said “status quo shall be maintained by all means”. Pervez Rathore replied that it meant “everything will keep functioning the same way as it is without any change”.

Barrister Mehmood Sheikh, counsel for the information ministry, said Chaudhry Rashid, the former Pemra chief, was seeking his reinstatement on the strength of a summary that was forwarded to the President for approval.

Barrister Sheikh said that a director general of the ministry had drafted a summary for the appointment of the regulator’s chairman on December 24 last year.

The summary opposed the appointment of Dr Abdul Jabbar or Murtaza Solangi as chairman .The first named is a junior officer while the “other is not an appropriate person for the job”, according to the summary.

The draft had further recommended that no serving official of the ministry of information should be appointed as chairman. Instead, it suggested, a retired official should be considered for the job.

Barrister Sheikh alleged that the secretary, ministry of information, manipulated the summary for appointment and recommended three names to the President, including that of his own.

The hearing was adjourned to July 18.

DAWN