Supreme Court seeks report on way to control live transmission of channels
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday directed Secretary Information Technology to submit before it on the next date of hearing, comprehensive report pertaining to the procedure of controlling the live transmissions of television channels.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed heard suo moto case of Islamabad standoff and a writ petition filed by Tariq Asad in the instant matter.
The court also directed that the committee constituted by the government in the Islamabad firing incident should also chalk out proposals for making the role of district magistrate effective.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had taken suo moto notice of the case regarding Islamabad firing incident of August 15 wherein a person, Sikandar, opened fire in the heavily policed heart of Islamabad after slipping past the capital’s many checkpoints. He was later shot and seriously wounded by police during a 5-hour long dramatic standoff.
The court had issued notices to Secretary Interior, IG Police Islamabad and Chief Commissioner Islamabad, Deputy Commissioner Federal Territory and District Magistrate Islamabad to explain their point of view on the incident.
Appearing on notice, Secretary Interior Qamar Zaman Chaudhry submitted that several lessons were learnt from the standoff in the federal capital. He, however, assured the court that in future if a similar situation arose it would be dealt with properly.
The Interior Secretary further contended that the Islamabad standoff was an administrative matter, which should have been resolved at the administrative level. He apprised the court that an investigation committee had been formed and its report was awaited.
District Magistrate Amir Ali while appearing before the court, accepted complete responsibility for the incident adding that the assistant commissioner had contacted Sikandar’s wife Kanwal at 5:00PM on the day of the standoff.
At this, the chief justice asked as to why steps were not taken to control the media during the incident. He inquired why the district magistrate had not contacted Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), adding that Pemra chairman appeared helpless during the entire episode. “Maybe Pemra is not aware of the laws,” the chief justice remarked.
Justice Khawaja remarked that TV channels were bound to abide by directives issued by Pemra. “Sikandar could not have achieved such fame even if he spent millions,” he said.The district magistrate admitted in court that no contact was made with the media to stop live coverage of the standoff.
IG Police Islamabad informed the court that the police force had one stun gun which was found to be faulty. On this, Justice Khawaja remarked that a dope gun used to sedate animals could have been used, inquiring if the zoo administration had been contacted.
Zulfiqar Malooka, counsel for Pemra while appearing before the court submitted that Pemra chairman had telephoned the TV channels to stop the live transmission but they did not implement the directive. He said that they wanted to take action against the channels for not complying with the order, but Article 19-A of Constitution became hurdles in that regard.
The chief justice observed that there should not be live coverage of the events, which encourage the terrorists and spread fear among the masses.Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing till September 5.