Lahore High Court (LHC) judge refuses to hear Imran’s plea challenging PEMRA’s ban | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Lahore High Court (LHC) judge refuses to hear Imran’s plea challenging PEMRA’s ban

Pakistan Press Foundation

LAHORE: Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Justice Shahid Bilal Hassan on Wednesday recused himself from hearing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s plea challenging PEMRA’s ban on airing his speeches.

Justice Hassan sent the case file to the LHC chief Justice, requesting to fix it to another bench.

On March 5, the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) had issued the order, under Section 27 of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002 purportedly declaring that Imran in his speeches and statements is continuously alleging state institutions by “leveling baseless allegations and spreading hate speech through his provocative statements against state institutions and officers, which is prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order and is likely to disturb public peace and tranquility”.

The PTI chairman had filed the petition through Barrister Muhammad Ahmad Pansota contending that in the judgment reported as ‘Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi Vs PEMRA’, Justice Athar Minallah of the Islamabad High Court had declared similar prohibition order on similar grounds as ultra vires the Ordinance.

Barrister Pansota submitted in the petition to the LHC that “PEMRA has issued the impugned order in excess of the jurisdiction vested in it and without having regard to the constitutional rights guaranteed under Articles 19 and 19-A of the Constitution.”

“Moreover, a plain reading of Section 27 also, prima-facie, shows that it does not empower the authority to issue a blanket prohibition order. The order appears to be in violation of the principle of proportionality,” read the plea.

He further contended that under Section 8 of the PEMRA Ordinance, 1/3rd of the total members of the authority shall constitute a quorum for the meetings of the authority requiring a decision by the authority which comprises a chairman and 12 members.

“As such at least five members should be present to constitute a quorum. Under section 8(5) all orders, determinations, and decisions of the authority shall be taken in writing and shall identify the determination of the chairman and each member separately.”

He implored that according to the PEMRA’s own press release, the meeting of the authority at which the order was passed was presided over by the chairman and three members: FBR Chairman Muhammad Irshad, K-P and Punjab members, Shaheen Habibullah and Nargis Nasir, respectively.

“In as much as less than 1/3rd of all members was present; the impugned order was therefore coram-non-judice. The said impugned order also failed to pass muster under Section 8(5) of the PEMRA Ordinance as the separate order of each member has not been identified therein.”

Pansota maintained that the order issued by PEMRA is “illegal, unlawful, more than its jurisdiction, and contrary to the fundamental rights as enshrined under the Constitution of Pakistan.”

He prayed to the court to set aside the order, adding that “the truth is that the petitioner Imran Khan has not delivered such hate speech or given any such statements against the state institutions which entailed such penal consequences.”

Source:  The Express Tribune

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