A Pakistani high court on Thursday set aside the government’s ban on the broadcast of the speeches and press meetings of ousted prime minister Imran Khan from satellite channels.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) banned the speeches of the chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party last week after the cricketer-turned-politician targeted former Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa in an address to his supporters in Lahore.
“Lahore High Court Justice Shamas Mahmood Mirza suspended the ban imposed by the PEMRA on the broadcast of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan’s speeches and press talks,” a court official told PTI after the hearing on Thursday.
The Lahore High Court ordered to lift the ban with immediate effect, he said.
The court passed the order on the former premier’s petition that challenged the ban imposed by PEMRA.
Justice Mirza announced the judgment, sent the matter to the full bench for hearing and adjourned the proceedings till March 13.
Khan’s counsel Barrister Ahmad Pansota argued that the PEMRA issued the impugned order above its jurisdiction without having regard to the constitutional rights guaranteed under Articles 19 and 19-A of the Constitution.
“A plain reading of section 27 of the PEMRA Ordinance, prima-facie, shows that it does not empower the authority to issue a blanket prohibition order. The prohibition order appears to be in violation of the principle of proportionality,” he argued.
Pansota said that the judgment handed down by the Islamabad High Court declared a similar prohibition order against the petitioner on similar grounds as ultra vires the Ordinance. He added that the PEMRA, without applying its mind and on the instigation of a political party ruling in the federation, took illegal and unlawful action against the petitioner to settle political rivalries.
“Imran Khan is being politically victimised by the PEMRA as there has been no violation of the laws. The impugned ban is violative of Article 10-A of the Constitution and liable to be set aside,” Pansota said.
Khan, 70, has been in the crosshairs due to his repeated criticism of the establishment, blaming it for doing nothing to save his government which was toppled last year due to a no-trust vote.
As the suspension of PEMRA’s order came, the electronic media watchdog on Thursday banned broadcasting and rebroadcasting of content pertaining to the conduct of the sitting judges of superior courts in the country.
In its latest order, the PEMRA directed that the running of contents against the conduct of the judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts is prohibited on electronic media with immediate effect.
The regulator referred to its previous directives wherein all licensees were directed to “refrain from telecasting any content against state institutions”, but various channels were disregarding the guidelines and “persistently discussing the conduct of honourable judges of superior courts and orchestrating a vilification campaign through airing slanderous allegations”.
PEMRA said running any such material was a sheer violation of the authority’s laws and judgments of the apex court. It said in its directive that it “prohibits broadcast/rebroadcast of any content pertaining to conduct of Honourable sitting judges of High Court and Supreme Court, in any manner, on electronic media (news bulletins, talks shows, etc.), with immediate effect”.
It asked the TV channels to put in place an effective Time Delay Mechanism and set up an “impartial editorial board” while warning that license of the violators would be suspended.
The orders coincide with the surfacing of audio leaks about a Supreme Court judge, raising questions about his integrity.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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