SC takes suo moto notice of obscenity in media
By: Ahmad Noorani
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has converted the letters of Justice (R) Wajihuddin Ahmed, Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Muhammad Hussain Mehnati against obscenity and vulgarity on the media into a petition and issued notices to chairmen PTA and Pemra and has fixed it for hearing on July 27, 2012.
The petition is marked 104/2012 and the case will be heard in the open court on Friday. The SC order issued on Wednesday titled “Regarding control of obscene and other objectionable material carried in the media” reads: “Take notice that three separate letters were received from Justice (R) Wajihuddin Ahmad, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, ex-Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and Muhammad Hussain Mehnati, Ameer Jamat-e-Islami Karachi on the subject cited above and on placing all these letters before the honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan. His lordship was pleased to call reports from chairman PTA and Chairman Pemra. After perusal of the said reports, the honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan was pleased to pass the following order; ‘Treat this matter as petition under article 184(3). Put up in court. Notice to attorney general, chairman Pemra and to petitioners be issued for 27.07.2012.’
“Take further notice that the matter has been registered as the Constitutional petition No 104/2012 and is fixed for hearing on 27.07.2012 in Court House Islamabad.”The major issues regarding obscenity highlighted in the petition involve airing of illegal Indian channels through cable network, obscene and vulgar dramas on Pakistani channels, immoral advertisements on TV channels, illegal CD channels distributed by cable networks in connivance with Pemra, and in particular the entertainment segments in the news bulletins on Pakistani news channels.
Following complaints from the two respected public figures, the Human Rights Cell of the apex court, following CJ’s direction, had sought views from chairman Pemra and chairman PTA, both of whom have given routine bureaucratic responses without any concrete assurance that the menace would be effectively checked and controlled.
Chairman Pemra in his response to the Supreme Court wrote: “The local market is flooded with smuggled and pirated CDs, DVDs, decoders, dishes and cards, which are proliferating obscenity through broadcast media and distribution service. On its part, Pemra took action against distribution and sale of illegal decoders and seized the equipment of Zee TV package. This action was challenged in the Lahore High Court (LHC) and the court was pleased to suspend the seizure.
“Consequent to which Pemra had to return the equipment. Nevertheless, Pemra has not stopped its efforts in this regard. It may kindly be appreciated that Pemra cannot fully eradicate this menace and it will only be possible with coordinated efforts of all other relevant agencies as well.”
It is important to mention here that whenever the Supreme Court takes up the issue of obscenity and vulgarity some objectionable Indian TV channels are closed for a few days but they stage a comeback. Even on Wednesday when the Supreme Court issued this latest order and fixed the case for Friday, sources told The News that Indian TV channels were closed in some big cities. Sources say a huge amount of money is involved in allowing illegal CD channels, distribution of illegal Indian TV channels and in many other similar illegal acts.