IHC suspends show-cause notices issued to Pemra's private members -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

IHC suspends show-cause notices issued to Pemra’s private members

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: Hearing a petition filed by private members of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi of Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday suspended important notifications related to the ongoing media crisis, including show-cause notices issued to three Pemra members.

Another notification suspended by the IHC was about Pemra convening a meeting on May 27.

The show-cause notices had been issued to private members Advocate Israr Abbasi, Mian Shams and Fareeha Iftikhar for announcing suspension of licences of three TV channels owned by Geo TV network on May 20.

The announcement was disowned by the executive member of Pemra.

A statement issued on the directive of executive member Kalimuddin Tipu the same day disowned the announcement made by Mr Abbasi and others and said that the decision taken by the private members had no legal authority.

The IHC also suspended a notification about the appointment of Mr Tipu, a Grade 20 officer of the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP), as executive member of Pemra.

According to Mr Abbasi, one of the petitioners, the government members on May 27 were about to take up an application of the Ministry of Defence and complaints forwarded to the Pemra board by its council of complaints against Geo TV.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Abbasi alleged that the government in violation of Pemra rules appointed Mr Tipu to manipulate the proceedings on the application of the defence ministry as well as other complaints against a TV channel.

Arguing before the court, Mr Abbasi said that being an officer of Grade 20, Mr Tipu could not be appointed executive member of Pemra which is a Grade 21 post.

He alleged that the government in order to increase the number of ‘loyal’ members in the Pemra’s board violated certain procedure in the appointment. Under the rule, he added, such appointment could be made by the president, but in this case Mr Tipu was appointed the prime minister.

At present, Pemra comprises 11 members, including five private members.

Mian Shams, another private member of Pemra who had also been given show-cause notices, told the court that the private members’ meetings on May 20 had decided to convene the next meeting on May 28, but the ex-officio members of the authority cancelled it and issued a notification for May 27 meeting.

He claimed that the agenda of May 27 meeting had been prepared at the residence of Pemra’s secretary.

He requested the court to restrain the Ministry of Information from interfering in Pemra’s affairs.

Justice Qureshi has issued notices to Pemra, the information ministry and Mr Tipu asking them to submit their reply.

The hearing of the case has been adjourned to a date to be fixed by the registrar’s office.