ISLAMABAD: In an interesting development, two of the six journalists who have previously requested the withdrawal of their names from the petition challenging the order of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority have decided to stand firm in their petition against Pemra order for all TV news channels to ban the broadcast of speeches and interviews of the convicted offenders and absconders.
After the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Supreme Leader Nawaz Sharif’s speech was broadcast live through electronic media, Pemra addressed a multi-party conference via a video connection from London in October.
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Pakistan Human Rights Commission (HRCP) and 16 editors, anchormen and media observers filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the Pemra Prohibition Order.
The petitioners are I.A. Rehman, Mohammad Ziauddin, Saleem Safi, Zahid Hussain, Asma Shirazi, Syed Ejaz Haider, Munizae Jahangir, Ghazi Salahuddin, Zubeida Mustafa, Najam Sethi, Nasim Zehra, Amber Rahim Shamsi, Gharida Faroqi, Mehmal Sarfraz and Mansoor Ali Khan.
Two of the six journalists who have previously requested that their names be removed from the petition will now pursue the case.
The Deputy Chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council, Abid Saqi, and Saleema Hashmi, HRCP, are also among the petitioners.
The petition challenged the order of Pemra of Oct 1 and a further directive released on May 25, 2019. In addition to prohibiting the above-mentioned broadcast, Pemra also prohibited the broadcast of any debate on possible outcomes of sub judice matters.
A day earlier, Advocate Ghulam Sabir filed six applications on behalf of Mrs Farooqi, Mrs Sarfraz, Mr Hussain, Mrs Zehra, Mrs Shirazi and Mr Safi for the withdrawal of their names from the petition. However the lawyer told the court that Mrs Farooqi and Mrs Sarfraz were unwilling to withdraw the main petition and requested that it be treated as withdrawn.
Subsequently, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah dismissed the withdrawal of Ms Farooqi and Ms Sarfraz.
Justice Minallah, however, allowed the deletion of the names of four journalists—Mr Hussain, Mrs Shirazi, Mrs Zehra and Mr Safi—from the petitioner list.
The petition claimed that the order of the electronic media watchdog was “unconstitutional and illegal prohibitions on the dissemination of information to the electronic media in Pakistan.” This prohibition is a constitutional error in its own right and amounts [to] nullifying the rights made available under Article 19A.