Pemra heavyweight's appointment challenged in IHC -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Pemra heavyweight’s appointment challenged in IHC

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), which is already embroiled in controversy, may stand to lose one of its most influential members after a petition challenging his appointment was filed in the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday.

The petition maintains that Pervaiz Rathore, a retired officer of the Police Service of Pakistan, was not eligible to become a Pemra board member and that his appointment was not made in line with due process.

Observers believe that if Mr Rathore is sent home, the authority will not be able to handle the challenges it faces, including the government’s application against Geo TV.

Pleading his case, petitioner Arafat Ahmed maintains that according to section 6 of the Pemra Ordinance, the authority’s chairman and its 12 members are appointed by the president of Pakistan. But in Mr Rathore’s case no approval was sought from the president and he was appointed directly by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in February.

Section 6 (1) of Pemra Ordinance reads: “The authority shall consist of a chairman and twelve members to be appointed by the president of Pakistan.”

Petitioner maintains Rathore too old to serve on authority

The petitioner maintains that according to section 7 of the ordinance, the chairman and members of the authority are appointed for a statutory four-year period and they should retire at the age of 65. Therefore, no member of the Pemra board can be appointed after they attain the age of 61.

However, Mr Rathore’s age at the time of his appointment to the board was 64 years.

Section 7 (1) of the Pemra Ordinance reads: “The chairman and members, other than ex-officio members, unless earlier removed for misconduct or physical or mental capacity, shall hold office for a period of four years and shall be eligible for re-appointment for a similar term or as the federal government may determine: Provided that the Chairman and a member shall retire on attaining the age of sixty-five years.”

He said that under section 6 (4) of the ordinance, the Pemra chairman was empowered to recommend two members of the board in case of a vacancy. It was in this manner that former chairman Chaudhry Rashid recommended Mr Rathore in January, but withdrew his recommendation the next month when he came to know that Mr Rathore would attain the age of superannuation soon.

“The ex-chairman wrote a letter to the information secretary stating that he withdraws his recommendation as he was not aware that Mr Rathore was 64 years old at the time of his appointment,” the petitioner said.

The office of Pemra chairman has been vacant since former chief Chaudhry Rashid was sacked by President Mamnoon Hussain on April 16. Following his removal, a three-member committee headed by Pervaiz Rathore was formed to run the affairs of the authority, but the committee was disbanded after its powers were transferred to an executive member a week ago.

Kalimuddin Tipu, a grade-20 officer, was appointed executive member of Pemra, but his appointment also was challenged in the IHC. The challenge stated that as the post of chairman was a grade 21 position, it could not be given to a grade-20 officer.