Islamabad High Court bars media from printing, airing anti-judiciary material
By: Faisal Kamal Pasha
ISLAMABAD: Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) here on Tuesday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chairman “to ensure that no programme 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 court are criticised, ridiculed and defamed”.
The IHC judge, while hearing a petition seeking restraints about the media trial of the judges and judiciary, in his order further observed: “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 person may opt for the mechanism provided under Article 209 of the Constitution of the 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 country.”
Justice Siddiqui directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting secretary and Pemra chairman to appear before the court in person on October 15.
The IHC judge directed the Pemra chairman to produce the code of conduct and parameters for live transmission. The IHC judge directed the Ministry of Information and Pemra to furnish a report about the actions/ measures taken by them against the atrocious, malicious, scandalous and scurrilous programmes telecast by different TV channels, which resulted into defaming the honourable judges of the superior courts and ridiculing and scandalising their official performance.
The petition was filed on Monday seeking from the court to direct Pemra to immediately issue written directions to all national news broadcasters that they must not broadcast any interview or press conference that may contain any defamatory material or statements against any member of the superior judiciary.
The IHC judge conceded to the argument of the petitioner that anyone with mala fide intentions could use the electronic media as a tool to malign the judiciary and to sensationalise the events.
Legal counsel for the petitioner, Akram Sheikh, advocate, adopted before the court that there is a slander campaign going on to defame the judges of superior courts and the chief justice of Pakistan in particular. A media trial of the judges is going on and that is violative of the Constitution.
Sheikh told the court that under Article 19 of the Constitution, freedom of expression is the basic right of a human being but there were some restrictions also. Under the freedom of expression cover, broadcasting defamatory material against the judges of superior courts and that it is violative of the Constitution. In some television talk shows, severe allegations were levelled against the judiciary that is a clear question mark at the efficiency of Pemra. Such slander campaign leaves an impression to the layman that the judges of the superior courts could be mocked and ridiculed. Counsel for the petitioner told the court that a senior journalist of The News, Ansar Abbasi, in his columns published on October 06 and 07 has clearly indicated about a slanderous campaign about to be launched against the judiciary.
The petitioner has sought from the court to direct the Pemra to suspend the license of any national news broadcaster that shows any such interview or press conference in which defamatory statements or allegations are levelled against any member of the superior judiciary.
The petitioner has further prayed to the court to direct the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to restrain national and local newspapers from publishing contents of any such press conference or interview that may contain any defamatory statements or allegations against any member of superior judiciary. In case the defamatory material is published, the police departments of the four provinces and of federal capital should register cases against the media organisations.