SC directs ministry, Pemra to make details public
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday directed Information Ministry and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to make public details of the media advertisements by the political parties during the upcoming elections campaign on their websites. A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain heard identical petitions, filed against the federation on the spending of secret funds in the country.
The court also maintained its April 2 restraining order about disbursing funds to advertising agents/media houses until the next date of hearing. On April 2, the court had stayed till April 8 the disbursement of funds to any advertising agency or media house for the purpose of advertisements in media campaign for the upcoming general elections.
The court, while expressing annoyance over the Ministry of Information for not sharing the details of its secret fund with it, also warned of passing an appropriate order against the responsible officials, if the ministry failed to share the details with it.
Deputy Attorney General Dil Muhammad Alizai sought some time for furnishing reply over an application, in which it is alleged that a summary had been approved for making heavy payments for advertisements in a media campaign and that these funds are likely to be disbursed in violation of rules. It was further alleged that the summaries for disbursement of substantial amounts were approved after the expiry of the term of the previous government.
The court after accepting the request of DAG, asked him to provide the details of such summaries by tomorrow (April 10).
Meanwhile, in pursuance of the court’s earlier order, Secretary Election Commission Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan informed the court that the Commission had considered media commission’s interim report in the context of the forthcoming elections and they agreed with its recommendations.
In view of the commission’s suggestion, he however, said that it would not be possible for the ECP to establish a cell for monitoring the political parties’ media campaign during the elections.
Absar Alam, a journalist, told the court that there was a report in an Urdu newspaper that PTV was airing the advertisements of one political party without getting payment. At this, Justice Jawad S Khawaja questioned as to how could it be possible that state TV was being used for one political party’s campaign.
Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information, contended that it was incorrect that PTV was favoring one political party during the elections as the government was giving equal opportunity to all parties’ leaders in PTV current affairs programmes. He also requested the bench to give time to furnish reply in this regard.
The court observed that if the ministry did not furnish the details of this fund then they would pass an order to initiate criminal action against responsible officials as it was seeking the full details regarding the use of secret fund. Later, the court adjourned the hearing till A
Source: The News