Lahore High Court also bans airing of anti-judiciary material
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday barred all television channels from broadcasting any kind of contemptuous or ridiculous material against the judiciary and judges.
Through an interim order, Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to ensure implementation of the court’s order pertaining to a ban on airing derogatory TV programmes, press conferences, interviews and talk shows wherein guests, including politicians, were levelling allegations against judges and criticising the judiciary.
Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh passed this order while hearing a writ petition seeking action against parliamentarians for making ‘malicious’ statements against the judiciary. As the judge started the hearing, Advocate Azhar Siddique, the petitioner’s counsel, argued that many politicians/parliamentarians had been indulging in malicious campaign against the chief justice of Pakistan and other judges of the judiciary. He said all news channels and newspapers had been airing and publishing press conferences of parliamentarians without verifying their allegations.
The counsel pointed out that the political giants of the ruling party — Senator Faisal Raza Abidi, Sindh Minister Sharjeel Memon, MPAs Shaukat Basra and Raja Riaz and others — attempted to scandalise the judges and judiciary as an institution during their recent media statements and television talk shows.
Advocate Siddique argued that the mechanism for holding the superior judges accountable and for their removal from the office had clearly been laid down in the Constitution. Therefore, suspending or forcibly removing or compelling the judges to resign through a coordinated and planned nasty and other media campaign was totally unconstitutional, illegal and an attempt to ruin the institution of the judiciary, he added.
During the course of arguments, Justice Sheikh also remarked that Article 68 of the Constitution had restrained even parliament to debate judges of superior courts. At this, the petitioner’s counsel pointed out that the Supreme Court in its judgment against Contempt of Court Law 2012 had also ruled that parliament could not discuss the conduct of judges.
The counsel requested that Pemra be ordered to issue a written direction to all national news broadcasters that they must not broadcast any interview or press conference that may contain any defamatory material or statement against any member of the superior judiciary. He asked the court to order the Pemra to suspend the licence of any national news broadcaster that showed any such interview or press conference containing defamatory statements or allegations.
After hearing the arguments, the judge directed the federal government, Ministry of Information and Pemra to submit their replies and also ensure the presence of responsible officers on next hearing. The judge also directed the attorney general to assist the court in the matter. The hearing was adjourned till November 5.