=> Karachi: Sindh High Court has directed federal gov -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

=> Karachi: Sindh High Court has directed federal gov

Karachi: Sindh High Court has directed federal government’s law officer to file comments on identical petitions filed by Independent Media Corporation and Bird (Pvt) against the ban on transmission of Geo TV channels.

The court fixed January 21 for next hearing, observing that the petitions be placed before the same division bench that had previously heard it and passed order.

Independent Media Corporation and Bird (Pvt) challenged the ban on transmission of Geo News, Geo Entertainment, Geo Super and AAG TV channels by the government.

The petitioners, who have landing rights for satellite TV channels – Geo News, Geo Entertainment, Geo Super and AAG in Pakistan – submitted that after the imposition of emergency rule on November 3 last year, the petitioners’ channels were off-aired/proscribed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) throughout the country.

Earlier on January 7, petitions against the suspension of transmission of Geo TV channels were remanded back to SHC by the Supreme Court with the direction to decide it on merit within a month.

SC’s three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, Justice Mohammad Moosa K Leghari and Justice Chaudhry Ejaz Yousaf had set aside the earlier judgment of SHC and directed it to hear the case on January 11 and decide it on merit.

On December 4 last year, the court had dismissed as non-maintainable the identical petitions of the Independent Media Limited and Birds Private Limited against the 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).

Following SC’s order, the petitions came before SHC’s division bench comprising Justice Munib Ahmed Khan and Justice Syed Pir Ali Shah. However, one judge of the bench observed that the petition may not be placed before him.

Subsequently, the petitions were placed before another division bench comprising Justice Mrs Qaiser Iqbal and Justice Syed Mehmood Alam Rizvi, which directed federal law officer to submit comments on behalf of federal government and observed that the petitions be placed before the same bench that had previously heard the case and passed an order.

Petitioners’ counsel Mohammad Ali Mazhar contended that the channels were closed without the issuance of any notice by the authority concerned. He said that the ban was imposed without lawful authority.

He said that the transmission of two channels Geo News and Geo Super still remained suspended, while Geo, Aag and Geo Entertainment had resumed their transmissions. He, however, added that due to the closure of Geo channels the jobs of around 4,500 employees were at stake.

The learned counsel further submitted that due to the closure of Geo channels, the organisation was facing huge financial losses.

He said 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 assign reasons to Geo TV channels but except a verbal direction to cable TV operators nothing was communicated in writing.

Muhammad Ali Mazhar 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.

The court was prayed to declare the suspension/proscription or ban on satellite TV channels as unlawful and without any lawful authority and even against the provisions of PEMRA’s Third Amendment Ordinance-2007; and direct the respondents to immediately lift the ban/suspension or proscription of petitioners’ TV channels – Geo News, Geo Entertainment, Geo Super and AAG.

The petitioners also prayed the court to direct PEMRA to issue necessary instructions/directions to all cable TV operators throughout the country to immediately on-air/restore the transmission of Geo TV network without any interruption or interference and till the disposal of petitions direct the respondents to restore the transmission of TV channels.

Source: The News
Date:1/12/2008