CPNE rejects amendments in Press Council draft -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

CPNE rejects amendments in Press Council draft

KARACHI, January 25 2006: The Standing Committee of Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors CPNE has rejected the proposed amendment in draft Press Council saying that such amendments would give it an status of ‘Special Court’ against the newspapers instead of an independent and volunteer body.

The meeting, presided over by CPNE chief Arif Nizami, noted that the earlier structure of the Press Council on which the government, CPNE and APNS were unanimous, has been made controversial by proposing new amendments in a bid to open a Pandora box and squeeze the national press that would not be acceptable at any cost, a CPNE release said Wednesday.

The Committee discussed various matters relating to press freedom and government-press relations. Analyzing the prevailing situation, the participants expressed concern on using the advertisements by the government as a tactic to exert pressure on newspapers. Until the government holds control over the advertisements, the concept of free press could not be highlighted, they said adding that the practice of press advice, which continues at different levels, also needs to be ended.

The participants said that the national press had always demonstrated to be a very responsible press therefore it needs no especial or extraordinary measures.

The meeting decided to hold talks with the government and during the process the CPNE would evolve a joint strategy with APNS and seek opinion from legal advisors.

The Committee thanked Sindh Governor Dr. Ishratul Ibad Khan for taking note of problems faced by Daily Islam pointed out by the CPNE.

The meeting also discussed the situation with regard to Balochistan newspapers and holding of seminars.

Senior Vice President of CPNE, Fasih Iqbal of Balochistan times, Vice President, Islamabad Mehtab Khan of daily Ausaf, Vice President fort Balochistan, Waseem ahmed of daily Awam, Vice President for sindh, Dr. Jabbar Khattak of daily Awami Awaz, General Secretary, Muhammad Aslam Qazi of Kawish, Joint Secretary Syed Muneer Jeelani of Paigham, Wamiq Zubairi of Business Recorder, Inqlab Matri of Millat, Faisal Zahid Malik of Pakistan Observer, Tahir Najmi of Express, Naseer Hashmi of Umat, Owais Aslam Ali of PPI and others attended the meeting.

Proposed amendments in Press Council are as below:

2-n Establishment means any newspaper, news agency prescribed under press, newspapers, news agencies and book registration ordinance 2002.

2-o Employer means any person or body of person whether incorporated are not, Managing Director, Board of Directors or any person acting in such capacity authorized in this behalf.

3 Establishment of the Press Council:
3.1 There shall be established a Council by the name of the Press Council of Pakistan to implement the Ethical Code of Practice, as set out in the Schedule to this Ordinace and to perform such other functions as are assigned to it under this Ordinance or the rules regulations made there under.

3.2 The Council shall be a body corporate having perpetual succession and a common seal with power to acquire, hold and dispose of property, both movable and immovable and shall, by the said name sue and be sued.

3.3 The head office of the Council shall be at Islamabad. The sub-offices of the Council may be established one in each provincial capital. The other facilities to establish the head office, the four provincial sub-office and any other such offices as may be required by the council and the Commission.

3.4 The Council shall make decisions through a majority vote. In case of a tie, the chairman shall have a casting vote.

4.4 The Council may receive grants and donations from within the country and overseas (Added) from the Federal and Provincial governments or any international organization.

6.1 a Three (rather than Four) members by All Pakistan Newspapers Society;

6.1 b Three (rather than Four) members by Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors;

6.1 c Three (rather than Four) members by the Professional bodies of journalists: Provided that not of the organizations mentioned above shall nominate any member from its office bearers, nor any member of the Press Council shall contest an office of the Organization.

6.1 j President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

6.1 k One member by the leader of the house in the Senate.

6.1 l One member by the leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

7. 1 All organizations and bodies representing the press and the public as mentioned in section 6 shall send the nominations to the Registrar within thirty days of the commencement of this Ordinance (Added: or with in such extended period) in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed.

7.2 The Government shall notify within thirty days (Added: on receipt of) the names of the persons nominated as members under section 6 and every such nomination shall take effect from the date on which it is notified in the Official Gazette.

7.6 The Chairman may resign his office by giving notice in writing to the President (rather than Council) and any other member may resign his office giving notice to the Chairman.

7.8 The Chairman (rather than Council), Subject to rules as he (rather than it) considers necessary for the efficient performance of council’s (rather than its) functions on such terms and conditions as he (rather than it) may deem fit. The first Registrar shall be appointed by the Federal Government, (Added: on the recommendations of the Chairman) as soon as possible, after the commencement of this Ordinance.

8.1- iv to revise, (Added: amend, alter, modify) update, enforce and implement the Ethical Code of Practice for the newspapers, news agencies, editors, journalists and publishers as laid down in the Schedule to this Ordinance;

8.1-vi can take suo moto action against any individual, person, body of persons, editors, printer, publisher or any owner of any organization relating to the print media for violation of ethical code of practice for the press ( rather than to appoint Inquiry Commissions to decide complaints at the head office, all provincial sub-offices and regions, as the case may be, necessary for its proper functioning;)

8.1-vii or can with draw any case pending before any commission in any particular province and can assign entrust to any other commission as it may deem fit. (rather than to manage the funds and properties of the Council;)

8.1-viii to manage the funds and properties of the Council (rather than levy and collection of fees as may be prescribed;

8.1-ix levy and collection of fees (Added: and fines) as may be prescribed;

9.3 The Council may constitute Commissions for different regions other than the provincial sub-offices as may be deemed necessary (Added: The commission at Regional/Provincial sub-offices shall sonsist of 03 members to be appointed by the chairman of the Council as the case may be, consisting of one retired Judge of the High Court or a person to be qualified to judge of the High Court and two other members nominated by the Chairman.

10.1 No complaint shall be entertained by the Council unless the complainant has first given a notice to the concerned editor or publisher (Added: to registered A/D) within fifteen days of the publication of the matter complained against for appropriate relief:
Provided that the vacancy shall not prolong for more than 90 days and the Council shall coop any member to fill in that vacancy till the concerned organization nominates its nominee.

10.10-c make such other direction (Added: including a direction for payment of compensation to the complainant) as may be considered appropriate in the circumstances of the case

10.10-d May recover the compensation amount from the person against whom the case has been decided or may recover such compensation from the government dues payable to such person.

11.1-b section 5 of Limitation Act shall be applicable for computing the period of limitation for the purposes of filing of appeal.

12. Appeal against the decision of the council:

12.1 any person aggrieved by the decision of the council may prefer an appeal to the Supreme court of Pakistan within 60 days of the decision.

13 Bar of Jurisdiction: No court shall take cognizance of any matter which is directly or indirectly relating to the subject matter which is pending before the council or commission as the case may be. Provided that if it is brought in the notice of the court who has subsequently entertained any proceedings shall, on having the knowledge of pendency of matter before the council or commission, stay the proceedings forthwith.

14 Decision of the Council to be binding on all employers; Decision of the council shall be binding on all employers in relation to all newspaper, news agencies and establishments and shall submit a compliance report to the Registrar of the council with in reasonable time.

15 Procedure to be followed by the council;

15.1 While adjudicating upon any complaint the council or commission as the case may be shall follow as nearly as possible a summary procedure in this regard.
15.2 The council or commission as the case may be shall for the purposes of adjudicating upon any complaint be deemed to be a civil court and shall have the same power as vested in such court under the “Code of Civil Procedure” 1908 (Act V of 1908), including the power of;
15.2-a Enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath.
15.2-b Compelling the Production of documents and material objects and.
15.2-c Issuing commission for the examinations of witnesses or documents.

23 Power of the Chairman:
23.1 To appoint inquiry Commissions to decide complaints at the head office, all provincial sub-offices and regions, as the case may be, necessary for its proper functioning;
23.2 To exercise such control and disciplinary powers over the members and employees of the Council as may be prescribed;
23.3 The Council shall have its own ancillary professional and secretarial staff to be appointed on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed.
Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)
Date:1/25/2006