AJK court suspends ban on TV channel
MUZAFFARABAD: A division bench of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) High Court has suspended the regional administration’s orders for the closure of a cable TV channel and admitted for hearing a writ petition on the matter.
On Oct 17, the Muzaffarabad district administration had closed three cable TV channels operating from the regional capital. The action was taken in accordance with a directive issued a day earlier by the chief secretary as head of the home department.
The action, attributed to the National Action Plan against militancy, was challenged in the court by Mr Khurram Shahzad, owner of Capital News, one of the affected channels, for being “against the law, natural justice and constitutional provisions as well as without lawful authority”.
The petitioner informed the bench, comprising Justice M. Tabassum Aftab Alvi and Justice Chaudhry Jahandad Khan, that he had obtained a licence for cable transmission in Muzaffarabad from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) in Dec 2007. The permit was renewed from time to time until a restraining order was issued by the high court on Aug 8, 2011, against Pemra operating in AJK.
In 2005, the AJK Council had adopted the Pemra Ordinance 2002 and all its rules, declaring the authority as its agent for the purpose of the law.
The Muzaffarabad district administration had on Oct 17 closed three cable TV channels operating from the regional capital
The move was challenged by the AJK Cable Operators Association in the high court on July 23, 2011. The court declared on Sept 15 this year that the induction of Pemra as an agent to the AJK Council was against the law.
The petitioner against the TV channel ban said the AJK government, chief secretary, home department and divisional and district administration officers had unlawfully stopped him from broadcasting, which was causing him irreparable loss and depriving people of their right to information and entertainment.
Despite being served notices, the respondents failed to file comments or objections, upon which the petition was admitted for regular hearing and the operation of the impugned orders was suspended.
The bench said the respondents should be summoned for filing written statements, documents and affidavits by Nov 27, the next date of hearing.