Court orders Pemra to cancel licences of defiant cable operators

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Islamabad High Court IHC

ISLAMABAD: Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to ensure the restoration of Geo TV broadcasts in all parts of the country.

The IHC judge said if any cable operator was found violating the directions of the court or Pemra, immediate action should be taken in accordance with the law.The court also asked the Pemra counsel for the compliance of the order by 12:00 (midnight) on Tuesday.

Hearing miscellaneous petitions, the IHC bench observed that if Pemra is helpless in restoring the Geo transmission, its officials should express their inability to do so. The court ruled that the licences of those cable operators who are not airing the Geo transmission should be cancelled.

“The Geo TV transmission has been stopped by cable operators, while circumstances have been creating doubts about the role of a security agency. The court will protect all the constitutional institutions,” Justice Siddiqui observed.

The IHC bench was hearing the writ petition of the Shohada Foundation of Pakistan Trust (SFPT) that it had filed against ARY television for airing defamatory programmes against the superior judges. The IHC bench also heard the contempt of court petition that was moved by the Islamabad District Bar Association (DBA) through its counsel Syed Nayab Hassan Gardezi against ARY television for airing malicious content against the superior judiciary despite the orders of the IHC.

In the SFPT petition on June 11, the same court, through an interim order, had directed Pemra to ensure that “Mubashir allowed to conduct any programme on any TV channel till final decision of the instant writ petition”. The said order was later vacated by the Supreme Court.

Today the IHC bench directed ARY TV anchor Mubashir Lucman “to watch and examine his programme “Khara Sach” and make the statement as to whether it comes within the definition of decency, morality and not as yellow journalism. He was also directed to file his statement as to whether substance aired by him comes within the parameters of code of conduct of Pemra.

Justice Siddiqui directed to issue notices to All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) and Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) to render assistance with regard to the issue agitated through the petition.

During the hearing, Mubashir Lucman undertook to provide contents of the advertisement/other programmes containing the substance violative of code of conduct of Pemra, aired by different TV channels.

In the contempt of court petition of DBA IHC, the order reads, “Mr Mubashir Lucman, anchorperson of ARY news channel, has put appearance and submitted his non appearance from the court was not intentional but due to the fact that he was in UK in connection with routine medical check up. He is directed to file reply of contempt petition in writing before next date of hearing. Mr Sabir Shakir, Bureau Chief of ARY News, informed that Mr Salman Iqbal, Chief Executive of ARY News, has reached from USA to Karachi but his health was not permitting him to further travel to Islamabad, therefore, he could not appear before the court. However, he undertakes that Mr Salman Iqbal shall put appearance on the next date of hearing.”

Hearing the SFPT application, Justice Siddiqui observed that there is an impression that Mubashir Lucman is being provided with substance of his programme by some security agency. Addressing Mubashir Lucman, Justice Siddiqui said, “Do you see your own programme by yourself? See your own programme and tell whether it does fall in the domain of yellow journalism. It is because of you and some other channels that doubts have been created among general public about judiciary and different other institutions. You people have made judiciary a ping-pong ball.” Justice Siddiqui said Geo TV is not wailing in vain that its transmission is blocked at cable. He said everyone is after the state institution. “Everyone is aiming at Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Jawwad S Khawaja,” he said. Justice Siddiqui further observed that the Judiciary will protect the sanctity of the state institutions. “We will see how someone would loose talk about the judiciary and the security agencies.”

Justice Siddiqui said the judiciary will inquire from all the journalistic bodies and television anchors whether there exits any code of conduct or not. “Upon misconduct we also take action against our own lawyers,” he further said.

The court after issuing notices to the above adjourned the hearing till September 22.Advocate Ahmad Hassan Rana represented Pemra, Kalsoom Akhtar Advocate represented SFPT and Syed Nayab Hassan Gardezi and Naseer Ahmed Kiani represented DBA IHC.

APP: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday ordered the cable operators to resume the transmission of a private television network that has been suspended from the last few months by midnight. A single judge bench of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered the authorities to suspend the license of those cable operators who were not broadcasting the transmission or changed their respective position. The judge remarked that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) should ensure implementing the court’s orders in its true letter and spirit.

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