‘Who are you asking relief for?’ IHC judge questions petition against PEMRA ban
Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah, while hearing a petition regarding the ban on airtime issued by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), asked who would benefit from the ban being lifted.
The petition, filed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and 15 renowned journalists, anchors and media analysts, pertained to the PERMA order issued last month which barred television channels from airing the speeches of the absconding accused and proclaimed offenders.
The decision had come after the speeches of the absconding three-time prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif were broadcast on the national television and the government demanded the authorities to take notice of it.
The IHC CJ, asked the petitioners’ counsel, Salman Akram Raja, “Who are you asking relief for?”
The chief justice added that throwing out the PEMRA order would allow “all absconders will get the right to go on air”.
Furthermore, he cited the precedent of a previous case relating to former dictator General (r) Pervez Musharraf, wherein no relief can be granted to a fugitive.
The justice also questioned which person had been banned by PEMRA, to which the counsel replied that no person had been banned.
The court remarked that “two people have been affected by PEMRA’s order” and noted that the “affected parties” were not present, adding that the person affected by the order was an absconder and could not challenge it.
The judge remarked that the “absconding suspects should first surrender themselves before the court and then take advantage of their legal rights”.
“Freedom of expression is very important but here, the question is somewhat different,” said IHC chief justice, asking Raja if he would have Musharraf’s speeches aired as well.
“[This is] a test for the entire judicial system. You want that relief be granted to all absconding suspects?” he questioned and added: “Granting relief to an absconding suspect is not in the public interest.”
“Your appeal would grant relief to all absconding suspects which the court does not want to give,” the judge said and told the counsel to prepare arguments to convince the court to take up the petition for further hearing.
The case was adjourned until December 16.
Website: Pakistan Today