Supreme Court gives Pemra two weeks to define ‘obscenity’
By: Sohail Khan
ISLAMABAD: A Supreme Court bench Monday heard a constitutional petition regarding obscene and other objectionable material aired by the media and directed Pemra to define ‘obscenity’ within a period of two weeks.
A three-member bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain was hearing the case.Senior lawyers appeared on behalf of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association, Cable Operators Association and Pemra while Muhammad Akram Sheikh, and others appeared for the petitioners in the case.
The petition, under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, was registered in view of letters received from Justice Wajih-ud-Din Ahmed, former Judge of the apex court, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, prominent citizens and scholars in their own right.
The court in its order noted that the Pemra, despite that certain constitutional and statutory provisions were available, so far had not laid out the Commonly Accepted Standard of Decency. Although notices have been issued to some of the channels, it seemed that except for issuing notices, no short term and long term policy had been made in this context.
The court directed Pemra to lay down the Commonly Accepted Standard of Decency keeping in view Article 37(g) of the Constitution and other relevant laws and take short term and long term measures to control obscenity, indecency etc.
The court directed Pemra to complete this exercise within a period of two weeks. During the hearing the court was also informed that there was no permanent Chairman of Pemra and the incumbent was just an acting Chairman who had been doing the job for the last about two years.
The court issued a notice to the secretary, Ministry of Information and broadcasting to appear and explain on behalf of the government why a permanent chairman had not been appointed so far.Later, the court adjourned the case to be fixed after three weeks.