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No airtime relief for absconders: Islamabad court

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By Hamza Ameer

Islamabad, Nov 20 (IANS) Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah has said that there would be no relief given to any absconder for airing their speeches on the Pakistani television channels.

Minallah’s remarks came while hearing a petition against the electronic media watchdog, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), for ordering a complete ban from airing of speeches of former Premier Nawaz Sharif.

“It was not in public interest to give relief to an absconder,” said Chief Justice Minallah.

The petition was filed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) along with some journalists, who contested that PEMRA has barred all electronic media outlets from airing, broadcasting and rebroadcasting of speeches of former premier Nawaz Sharif and former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

It is important to note that both Nawaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar have been declared as absconders by the Pakistani courts.

The petition was virtually brushed aside by the IHC Justice, who made it clear that no absconder would be allowed to get any relief and the electronic media will continue to be barred from airing their speeches.

Recently, PEMRA has given out a notification, prohibiting all television channels in Pakistan from broadcasting or rebroadcasting any speech, interview or public address of absconders or proclaimed offenders.

As per the PEMRA notification, a ban was also imposed on broadcasting of commentary, opinions or suggestions about the potential fate of any matter, which is sub-judice in the courts.

The orders of PEMRA were seen in light of the recent speeches by the former premier Nawaz Sharif during the public gathering by Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), where he had targeted state institutions and accused them of meddling and manipulating the political democratic framework of the country. Sharif had addressed the PDM gatherings through video link from London.

Sharif, who is in London for medical treatment and had secured bail on medical grounds against his jail term on corruption charges in Pakistan, has been addressing PDM rallies through video link with Pakistani media channels broadcasting them live.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC), while hearing the petition seeking relief for electronic media channels on broadcasting speeches of Sharif and Dar; the court observed that if the PEMRA order was done away with, all absconders would be granted the relief of going live on air.

On the other hand, the petitioner contested that the PEMRA orders have affected thousands of people from their right to information.

“The ban has affected the citizens’ right to information which had been granted by the Constitution,” the petitioner maintained.

However, the Justice Minallah said that the absconders should first surrender themselves before the court and then avail their legal rights.

Justice Minallah asked the petitioner to justify and satisfy the court as to whether the absconder could avail the relief after appearing before the court and if the petitioner wanted the relief for all absconders.

The case was adjourned till December 16, with the petitioner asked to prepare for the case and come back with a justifiable argument.



(This story has not been edited by Newsd staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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