Pemra chief’s contradictions annoy LHC
LAHORE: A contradiction between oral and written statements of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chief greatly annoyed the Lahore High Court on Monday, and he was warned of action against him for giving contradictory statements in the court.
A single-member LHC bench was hearing a public interest writ petition regarding the Pemra ban on Pakistan’s only sports channel, Geo Super. The court later disposed of the petition after Pemra Acting Chairman Abdul Jabbar stated that the matter was also pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
During proceedings, the LHC judge, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, remarked that the whole nation, including him, watched Geo Super, but people have been deprived of a healthy activity by slapping a ban on it.
Pemra chief stated that the authority was ready to grant up-linking rights to Geo Super in just 10 minutes if it starts its transmission from Dubai. He was asked by the court to furnish a written statement in this regard, and adjourned the hearing for half an hour.
As the proceedings resumed, Pemra chief submitted a written statement, which the court found contradictory to his earlier oral statement.
The court took strong exception to it and remarked that action could be taken against him for changing his statement. “Now you are talking about technicalities, whereas earlier you only pointed out fulfilment of certain conditions which, according to the petitioner, had already been met,” the judge remarked. The judge further observed that up-linking rights were immediately granted to Geo Super for World Cup matches, but what were the hurdles in the way of giving it the same rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Pemra chairman alleged that the authority had not closed Geo Super transmission rather it had done so on its own. The court was informed that the matter was also pending before the Supreme Court. The court disposed of the petition, directing the parties to approach the apex court.
Counsels for Geo Super, Arif Gondal and Shahid Dahir advocates, earlier submitted that Geo Super had fulfilled all legal requirements, yet it is not being allowed transmission. The petition was filed by a citizen Safdar Iqbal Kasar in which he had made Pemra, federal minister for information, federal secretary information and Punjab governor as respondents. He pleaded that in a democratic government, media should be independent but the present regime had been following in the footsteps of dictatorial government, as it is stifling voice of media by closing transmission of Geo Super.
He pointed out that Geo Super had obtained licence from Pemra and security clearance as well, yet the largest media group of Pakistan was targeted and subjected to discrimination. He said Geo Super was promoting healthy activities in society by making vast coverage of different sports. He said Articles 4, 8, 9 and 19 of the constitution protected fundamental rights and freedom of press. But the government ignored all constitutional obligations and closed Geo Super transmission.
Source: The News