State given fortnight to seek govt stand on PEMRA (Amendment) Ord. -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

State given fortnight to seek govt stand on PEMRA (Amendment) Ord.

KARACHI: The counsel for the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Kashif Hanif, stated Tuesday before a division bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) that PEMRA never prohibited the live coverage of events. The division bench is hearing three identical petitions challenging 15 amendments in the PEMRA Ordinance.

The counsel stated that the PEMRA Ordinance does not permit the authority or its chairman to restrict or prohibit the live coverage, and added that neither a notice was issued under the amended ordinance till date nor was any section enforced. The standing counsel, Mehmood Alam Rizvi, stated that the government was considering repeal of the amendments as the Pakistan Broadcasters’ Association (PBA) has already submitted a draft of the Code of Conduct, which was likely to be approved ending the friction on the issue. The standing counsel and counsel for PEMRA requested the court to adjourn the hearing for 15 days so that the government’s decision could be conveyed to the court. The court allowed the request and put off further hearing of the petitions till August 28.

Mustafa Lakhani advocate, counsel for Salahuddin Gandapur and Muhammad Aqil advocates, when asked by the bench what law point was raised by them in the petition, submitted that the amended ordinance violated Article 19 of the constitution of Pakistan. When asked to respond to the objection to the locus standi (justification for filing petition) of the petitioners, the counsel submitted that the petitioners were concerned citizens and the right of access to information was guaranteed under the law.

He also submitted that the petitioners had no connection or nexus with the Code of Conduct prepared and submitted by the broadcasters. “If this code of conduct violated Article 19, my clients intend to challenge this as well,” said Advocate Lakhani.

He opposed the request for adjournment by the government and prayed the court to suspend the amended ordinance. He also prayed the court to make the PEMRA counsel’s statement that PEMRA never prohibited live broadcast, as part of the case record.

Raza Rabbani, who is the counsel for the People’s Lawyer Forum president, Shahadat Awan, arguing the petition, submitted that the national assembly was in session when the ordinance was promulgated, which in itself was a violation of Article 89 of the constitution of Pakistan.

He stated that the obtaining situation did not warrant the promulgation of the amended ordinance in the obtaining situation and thus showed mala fide actions. He also recalled that President General Pervez Musharraf had promised to repeal the amendments.

The third petitioner, Syed Iqbal Kazmi, was also produced before the court in compliance with the orders passed by the SHC.
Source: Daily Times
Date:8/8/2007