Govt restrained from appointing Pemra chief -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Govt restrained from appointing Pemra chief

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday restrained the federal government from initiating the process for appointing the chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

The restraining orders were issued on a contempt of court petition filed by the sacked Pemra chairman, Chaudhry Rashid Ahmed, against the information ministry for inviting applications to fill the post.

Mr Ahmed in his petition stated that since he had challenged his dismissal in the IHC and the matter was pending, the advertisement was tantamount to the contempt of court.

High court stops appointment process on a contempt petition

The information ministry published an advertisement on July 23 inviting applications from the interested candidates to fill the post.

Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi in his ruling on Friday observed that since the matter was pending with the court, by advertising the vacancy the government had shown arrogance and tried to “defeat the process of law by inviting applications for the post which is sub judice.”

Justice Qureshi remarked that the court had directed the government on February 24 to maintain a “status quo” after Mr Ahmed filed a petition against his alleged harassment by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

“The status quo means everything related to the subject issue is to be kept stagnant,” he explained.

The judge said he was expecting that the government would maintain status quo; therefore, he did not specifically directed the interior secretary to restrain from taking any adverse action.

Referring to an earlier hearing, Justice Qureshi said the counsel for the federal government, Mehmood A. Sheikh, had sought permission to publish the advertisement which was straightaway denied.

The judge observed that if the respondents were allowed to invite applications for the post of chairman Pemra, the petition filed by Mr Ahmed would become infructuous.

The court restrained the respondents (information ministry) from proceeding further with regard to the filling of the post and adjourned the hearing of the matter till a date to be fixed by the registrar office.

The post fell vacant on April 17 after the government removed Mr Ahmed for the second time.

Earlier, he was shown the door on December 15 and Rao Tehsin made as the acting chairman of Pemra.

However, Mr Ahmed challenged his dismissal and the appointment of the acting chairman in the IHC which restored him in April.

In his December judgment, Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi observed that the government had not adopted a proper procedure to dismiss Mr Ahmed.

The government again sacked Mr Ahmed on April 17. A notification in this regard said President Mamnoon Hussain had removed Mr Ahmed in the light of the IHC judgment.

The government then appointed Pervez Rathore as the acting Pemra chairman.

The IHC, however, suspended Mr Rathore on July 15.

The government filed a review petition against the suspension of Mr Rathore but later withdrew it, saying the matter would be challenged in the Supreme Court.

The advertisement was placed in newspapers after the IHC suspended the notification for the appointment of Mr Rathore.