Screen time: Petition seeks TV coverage ban on Imran Khan
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chairman to place before it recorded speeches and statements made by PTI chairman Imran Khan and aired on electronic media regarding the party’s November 2 protest.
The IHC has also ordered the Interior secretary, the city’s top cop, the chief commissioner and a district magistrate to appear in person before the court on Thursday (today) to apprise it on steps taken to protect the fundamental rights of citizens during the planned protest.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui issued the directions while hearing four petitions seeking instructions for the Pemra chairman to strictly implement the National Action Plan (NAP) and stop telecasting speeches, and interviews by Khan as he is nominated in high-profile cases under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).
The petitions were filed by three practicing lawyers Raja Maqsood Hussain,Tasleem Abbasi, Faiz Ahmed Cheema and a law student, Mohibullah. The petitioners also contended that hurling threats to lock down the city attracts provisions of the ATA and the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
They have made federal government through interior ministry, the PEMRA chairman, the IG and the PTI chairman as respondents. The Islamabad chief commissioner and deputy commissioner were also impleaded during the hearing with the court’s permission.
Khan has urged the masses to be ready for a “decisive sit-in in Islamabad” if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif fails to present himself for accountability. The petitioners have argued that a complete lockdown of the city would badly affect the work of the petitioners as they practice in both, Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The counsel said that PEMRA should not telecast Khan’s speeches and interviews as he is still at-large and has not surrendered before a court of law which is seeking his arrest.
At the moment, the counsel maintained, criminal cases under ATA laws are pending against Khan and some of his companions, wherein the ATC already has issued arrest warrants which the top cop has failed to execute.
Khan had been nominated under the ATA in cases relating to the 2014 dharna, including the attack on parliament, the Pakistan Television building, and on police officials.
Khan “does not believe in rule of law and having known history of taking law into his own hands which is evident from his conduct in above mentioned cases,” the counsel stated. “He never surrendered himself before the court of law or any agency and still at large due to the collaboration,” of the police chief and others, the petition adds.
A siege of the capital city would provide strength to Pakistan’s enemies, the petitioners further said.
The counsel said that under NAP, the name, speeches and slogans of persons involved in terrorist activities cannot be published or telecast. But, he claims, the PTI chairman is involved in terrorist activities, is wanted by the court, and is deliberately avoiding arrest, adding that it is irony that Khan’s speeches and interviews are still regularly aired on electronic media.
The petitioners contend that it is the duty of the state to keep check on electronic media and ensure that NAP is not violated.
Further, they requested the court to direct the federal government to ensure the free and smooth movement of the citizens. In addition, they have asked for the PTI chairman to be apprehended as he is already wanted by ATC and NAP may be implemented by not giving him air time.