Peshawar High Court (PHC) issues notices to officials on illegal funding for press club
The Peshawar High Court Abbottabad circuit bench has issued notices to officials of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information and Public Relations Department and Joint Stock Companies and Societies and sought comments on a petition challenging the alleged illegal funding provided by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government to an unregistered press club during its tenure.
The PHC Abbottabad circuit’s divisional bench comprising Justice Wiqar Ahmad and Justice Kamran Hayat Mian Khel admitted the writ petition and sought comments from respondents.
Zaffar Iqbal, Malik Saeed Akhtar and Mehdi Zaman moved the petition on behalf of three journalists-cum-publishers of national dailies. The petitioners have also challenged the unlawful registration certificate issued to the press club by the provincial registrar of the industries department in violation of codal formalities.
The counsel for the petitioners, while arguing on the plea, contended that the illegal distribution of a huge amount in the shape of grant-in-aid provided by the provincial during the last decade not only proved fatal for national interest but also raised many eyes brows at the international forum as Pakistan remained in the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) due to illegal and unlawful funding to the unregistered bodies/organisations.
The petitioners argued that the K-P government on the one hand issued directions to all press cubs for their registrations for the provision of funds will and on the other hand, it violated the law and provided funds to the unregistered and illegal press club.
They said that the K-P information department during an audit of the press club in the financial year 2019-2020, said that only those press clubs/unions of journalists are eligible to receive grant-in-aid which are registered with any one of the fora of the state. The audit team had also directed the press club to register itself with the joint stock companies and societies or any other forum authorised for the purpose. No grant-in-aid will be entertained without registration of the press club/union of journalists in the future.
The petitioners said that the funding provided to the “Press Club Abbottabad” was unlawful.
Referring to the minutes of the meeting of the provincial information department it was stated that the dispute resolution committee constituted for the affairs of Press Club Abbottabad issued a preliminary list of 71 bona fide members and asked to conduct elections as per the list.
The petitioners said that the registration of the press club was done illegally as a majority of the members including petitioners were not taken on board.
The petitioners pleaded that the grant-in-aid provided by the provincial government to the unregistered press club should be declared illegal and unlawful.
Source: The Express Tribune