Anti-judiciary speeches: Pemra acting as silent spectator, says LHC
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday observed that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had been playing the role of a silent spectator on the issue of anti-judiciary speeches being delivered by certain politicians and showed undue diligence in other matters.
A three-judge full bench made these observations while hearing petitions against alleged anti-judiciary of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and others leaders PML-N.
During the hearing, the bench’s head Justice, Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, repeatedly questioned the Pemra for its failure in exercising its powers to stop tirade against state institution. Earlier, AK Dogar formally filed his power of attorney on behalf of Nawaz and Azam Nazir Tarar appeared before the bench to represent Maryam.
During the hours-long hearing, they kept asking the bench to adjourn the matter due to unavailability of Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for Pemra. Dogar argued that any proceedings in the absence of the Pemra’s counsel would be without jurisdiction.
Justice Naqvi assured the counsel he should not have any anxiety as the court was not going to pass any order without hearing the Pemra. Tarar also questioned the maintainabilityof the petitions and pointed out that the Supreme Court had already dismissed identical petitions on merit.
Justice Atir Mahmood, another member of the bench, observed that the Supreme Court showed grace by not initiating contempt proceedings. To a court query, the lawyer said the complaints mentioned in the petitions in hand were before the apex court’s decision.
At this point, Justice Naqvi observed that the ongoing speeches by the respondents were not against any specific judge but against the whole institution of judiciary. Petitioners’ counsel Azhar Siddique pointed out that the Pemra had put all television channels off-air for two days during last year’s Faizabad (Islamabad) sit-in by a party.
Justice Naqvi regretted that the Pemra had been working discriminately as it showed leniency in some cases while took prompt action in others. “Lodging protest by some people has been precedence for Pemra over inciting people against judiciary,” Justice Naqvi asked acting chairman of Pemra Ashraf Jumani.
Justice Ch Masood Jahangir added here and asked the officer whether the Pemra had been waiting for someone’s direction to take action. Jumani said the Pemra had been looking into the matter and also sought suggestions from Pakistan Broadcasters Association, an organisation of television channels’ owners. The bench adjourned hearing till April 16, directing the Pemra to submit transcripts of the anti-judiciary speeches and record of the proceedings on the complaints filed by the petitioners.