=> ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday remand
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday remanded the case against suspension of transmission of Geo Television to the Sindh High Court with the direction to decide it on merit within a month.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Muhammad Moosa K Leghari and Justice Chaudhry Ejaz Yousaf, set aside the earlier decision of the Sindh High Court (SHC) and directed it to hear the case on January 11 and decide it on merit.
A division bench of the SHC on December 4, 2007 had dismissed as non-maintainable the identical petitions of the Independent Media Limited and Birds Private Limited against closure of the transmission of Geo News, Geo Entertainment, Geo Super and Aag channels after five hearings, observing that several fundamental rights were suspended under the state of emergency and the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO).
The Independent Media Corporation Private Limited and Birds Private Limited later filed a civil petition for leave to appeal in the Supreme Court on December 10, 2007 against the dismissal by the SHC on December 4 of applications challenging the closure of transmission of Geo Television Network. Muhammad Ali Mazhar advocate, counsel for Geo Television, appeared before the bench on Monday and submitted that the channels were closed without issuance of notice by the authority concerned. He said that the ban is without lawful authority.
He informed the court that still transmission of two channels including Geo News and Geo Super remained suspended while Geo Aag and Geo Entertainment had resumed their transmissions. However, he said that due to the closure of channels of Geo, jobs of around 4,500 employees were at stake.
The learned counsel further submitted that due to the closure of Geo channels, the organisation is facing huge financial losses. He argued that while all other channels had been allowed to telecast their programmes, only Geo’s channels had been singled out and banned. He further contended that it was necessary for Pemra to issue show-cause notice or reasons to Geo TV channels but except a verbal direction to cable TV operators nothing was communicated in writing. The counsel argued that under article 18 of the Constitution, their right of business is being affected despite the fact that they have landing rights and having valid licence.
Muhammad Ali Mazhar advocate further submitted that they had signed the code of conduct of the amended Pemra Ordinance but despite that the government was delaying re-opening of two channels of Geo television.
He further contended his client wants the restoration of transmission of Geo News and Geo Super. He requested the court to intervene in this regard and pleaded for re-opening of Geo News and Geo Super.
Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum while appearing before the court submitted that the Sindh High Court had dismissed the identical petitions of Geo on technical grounds. He said the court should have decided the case on merit.
He further stated that during the state of emergency and promulgation of Provisional Constitution Order 2007, fundamental rights were restored. Therefore, he said, the SHC had dismissed the case on technical grounds rather than deciding it on merit.
The court remanded the case to the Sindh High Court with the direction to decide it on merit within a month. The court further directed the Sindh High Court to hear the case on January 11.
On November 3, President Musharraf had declared state of emergency in the country and as a result transmissions of various private television channels were suspended. Later, the Perma ordinance was amended and after assurance from TV channels their transmissions were restored except that of Geo Television.
Source: The News