LHC again issues notices to Federation, Pemra
LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice Khalid Mehmood Khan on Monday again issued notices to a private TV channel’s owner Salman Iqbal and anchor Mubasher Lucman for broadcasting defamatory programmes against the Jang/Geo Group and its owners and also to the Ministry of Information and Pakistan Electric Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for not initiating action against the channel, as they did not submit their replies.
Lawyers of the federation and Pemra did not appear.The court issued the notices on a writ petition filed by the owners of the Independent Newspapers Corporation (Pvt) Limited and Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Limited, represented by senior lawyer AK Dogar, under Article 199 of the Constitution.
As hearing started on Monday, petitioner’s counsel AK Dogar submitted a miscellaneous application to place on record transcript of three anti-judiciary programmes aired by the respondent private channel.
Ch Aitzaz Ahsan appeared on behalf of the private channel and sought time to submit reply.The court admitting the request adjourned the hearing till Jan 16.
The petition contended that the respondents had been indulging in a character-assassination campaign on their network against the petitioners for a few months. In addition to this, the petition added, additional sessions judge (Karachi South) had issued the arrest warrants against the anchor of the programme on Sept 7, 2013 in a similar plea, but the anchor did not appear before the court deliberately.
The petitioner pointed out that a case of declaration with permanent injunction was pending against the respondents in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
Despite the fact the matter was sub-judice in various courts, the respondent TV team persisted with its baseless tirade against the petitioners.
On this, the petitioner had also filed another civil suit against the respondents in the IHC, which is pending. The baseless propaganda has been going on for the last two months, involving the directors, employees and all other people associated with the group, aiming at sabotaging the goodwill of the petitioner.
The petitioner said that the Section 20 of the Pemra Ordinance 2002 bars broadcast of defamatory material. Therefore it was the responsibility of the Pemra to ensure that none of its licence holders broadcast any such material, but it did not stop the defamatory broadcast by the respondent TV channel and failed to act against it.
The petitioner further argued the Pemra had failed to take any appropriate action against the violators so far. The petitioners filed an application to the Pemra through its counsel on Nov 29, 2013, requesting it to ensure implementation of Pemra Ordinance 2002 in letter and spirit and direct the respondents to refrain from defaming the petitioners and the employees of the media house.
But the Pemra did not fulfil its legal responsibility, which draws serious apprehensions as if the Pemra is not interested in restraining the respondents from defaming the plaintiff and their employees.
So the complainants had to move the court for help for putting to an end this malicious onslaught. The petition sought the court’s immediate intervention for stopping the private TV channel from defamatory broadcast against the petitioners, their directors and others concerned.
The petitioner further requested the court to advise the Pemra to suspend or cancel the licence of the respondent TV channel if it persisted with its baseless propaganda. The petitioners’ counsel also requested the court to pass instructions to the respondent TV channel not to broadcast any defamatory programme.
The court will resume hearing by January 16.