Under which law NOC was issued to private channel: IHC -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Under which law NOC was issued to private channel: IHC

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: In a petition seeking legal action against ARY Channel for the tragic incident occurred while recording channel’s programme at Bahria Enclave here, Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Justice Aamer Farooq directed lawyers to assist the court that under what law an NOC was issued to the programme organisers and in case of violation of the law what legal action could be initiated.

Giving time to the lawyers to prepare in this case, IHC bench adjourned the hearing till July 3. A stage set up by the channel was collapsed while recording the said programme that resulted in the death of one person and injuries to around 150 others.

Abdul Munim Durrani and seven other petitioners alleged before the IHC that after the tragic incident, doctors at polyclinic, Shifa International and PIMS maltreated the injured patients and under the influence  did not disclose the exact nature of injuries to them while media did not report the incident. The petitioners also sought legal action against doctors and the media as well.

The petitioners adopted that the petition was being filed on behalf of the victims of the tragic incident which occurred during the recording of the programme hosted by ARY on April 28, 2017 in which the seating stand collapsed causing serious injuries to hundreds of men, women and children, including the petitioners and/or the members of their families.

That the office of the District Magistrate was responsible for law and order and security in ICT. The petitioners adopted that recording of the programme was in full knowledge of the district magistrate as he had issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) on April 24 to the host television channel.

In the terms and conditions of NOC, it was mentioned that proper arrangements for the safety and security of the participants should be made. That the recording was being attended by nearly 3,500 people including women and children. The organisers of the said programme had installed a large seating stand for the guests, made of plastic and metal, which comprised several steps that reached almost 20 feet in height.

At approximately 8:00pm, the programme was about to start and the guests were seated peacefully but suddenly the entire seating stand collapsed and hundreds of guests got entangled in the disintegrating seating stand. Severe injuries were caused due to collisions with sharp broken portions of the seating stand as well as collisions with other people. Many people got seriously injured after falling on rough ground from considerable height.

That the organisers instead of helping the victims, further aggravated their miseries. Initially, false information regarding an earthquake was spread. Then to make matters worse, the lights on the venue were switched off causing further panic and making it impossible for the injured to be rescued from under the wreckage, many of whom needed urgent medical care. Eventually, instead of supplying emergency services to the injured persons, the organisers fled the spot leaving the victims stranded and helpless.

The victims had to attend to themselves and their families and reached the hospitals completely on their own accord. In the aftermath of the incident, at least one guest died, many were rendered in critical life threatening conditions and more than 150 people suffered a multiple serious injuries including spinal cord, broken bones, internal ruptures and permanent disfigurements.

That the misery of the guests including the petitioners, continued as news channels did not report the incident and the relevant hospitals maltreated the injured persons, misreported their injuries and even discharged some patients despite serious fractures and spinal injuries, keeping them in dark about the nature of their injuries, and this was apparently under the influence, the petitioners alleged. Many of the victims suffered shock and anguish as they learnt about the real nature of their injuries two to three days later as their pain refused to subside and they were forced to take second opinions from doctors from other hospitals who revealed to them that they had been kept in dark about their injuries.

That the police were also reluctant to take any action including registration of the FIR. Despite such a massive incident the police failed to record the statements of the injured on the night of the incident.

That it was only when concerned citizens raised their voices on social media against the barbaric and inhuman treatment and the gross injustice from which the petitioners and other victims had suffered that the public at large came to know about the incident. Consequently, the media started reporting the issue and the state machinery began to come into action.

The petitioners alleged that after the details of  the incident became public, the respondent programme organisers fearing litigation started intimidating and coercing them, forcing them to settle the issue by offering them meagre compensations in return for a clean chit. The petitioners adopted that many of the injured were unaware of their legal rights and already facing the extreme burden of medical expenses.

After all this when the petitioners tried to register FIRs at Nilore police station, they were advised by the police to settle their dispute with programme organisers. That eventually, the Chief Justice of Pakistan took suo moto notice of the incident on May 12, 2017 and an FIR was registered. The petitioners adopted that their fundamental rights had been blatantly violated and denied by the respondents through sheer malice, incompetence and negligence on their part.

The petitioners prayed to the court to direct district magistrate, chief commissioner and IG ICT to show cause as to why they failed to ensure compliance of the conditions of the NOC; district magistrate and chief commissioner may be directed to inquire into the causes and take strict action against the respondent programme organisers. The petitioners further prayed to the court to direct the IG ICT to carry out fair investigation into the incident and PMDC might be directed to inquire conduct of the doctors. The petitioners further prayed before the court to direct Pemra to issue show cause notices to all concerned channels and inquire into their decision not to report this news of the incident.

The News International