LHC orders lifting of ban on Geo News, other channels
LAHORE: Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday ordered the federal information minister, the Punjab governor, the Pemra chairman and the Punjab chief secretary to immediately lift the ban on transmission of Geo News and other private news channels.
While issuing an order on a petition moved by Ashraf Gondal, Secretary Alfizan Commission, LHC Chief Justice Kh Muhammad Sharif also sought a report and comments from the respondents by August 19.
The CJ said: “The respondents are directed to lift blockage on broadcasting of Geo, ARY and AAJ whether it is done orally or in writing under the order of any state functionaries.” Deputy Attorney General Naveed Inayat Malik opposed the petition, saying it was not maintainable, as the petitioner had not annexed any order about the blockage with the petition. He further argued that no writ petition could be filed against private persons. The LHC CJ, however, observed that no reply could be sought from the PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
“As far as the written order about the blockage is concerned, I think there will be no written order for blockage, so it is not necessary for the petitioner to place the same on record,” the CJ observed.
The petitioner, through his counsel Arif Gondal, argued that millions of people in the country were in deep trouble due to the worst flood and facing hunger and death. He said the media was highlighting the miseries of the people so that relief goods might reach them.
Earlier, President Asif Zardari visited the UK, inviting bitter criticism from almost every citizen. The Pakistani community in the UK also protested outside the Birmingham Convention Centre, where President Zardari was delivering a speech. Zardari faced humiliation when a supporter Shamim Khan threw shoes at him. Geo News and other channels aired this incident, which annoyed Zardari and his close aides.
In retaliation, Geo transmission was blocked in different areas while copies of Daily Jang and The News were snatched from the hawkers and set on fire. The petitioner said blockage of these channels had also badly hampered the relief activities in the flooded areas, as they were not being identified.
He said the media played a pivotal role in the lawyers’ movement for restoration of judges and the then dictator Pervez Musharraf had also tried to put curbs on the media but failed. Resultantly, the dictator was thrown out and democracy and judges were restored in the country. But it is strange that the democratic government is also trying to damage the freedom of press guaranteed in the Constitution. He prayed the court to summon PPP’s Co-chairman Asif Zardari and explain why party workers were doing illegal acts. He further requested the court to issue direction to the respondents to lift the ban on the transmission of above-mentioned news channels.
Source: The News