Faizabad sit-in: Pemra files plea to withdraw review petition after IB

SC has fixed September 28 for hearing of review petitions against Faizabad sit-in

Wednesday, September 27, 2023
View of Pemra's building in Islamabad. — Information Ministry/website

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Wednesday filed a plea seeking permission to withdraw its review petition against the Faizabad sit-in verdict, a day after the Intelligence Bureau (IB) also decided the same.

In a separate petition, the media regulatory body decided to withdraw its review petition challenging the Supreme Court's judgment in the aforementioned case issued by incumbent Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa in 2019, after Islamabad'sFaizabad city was confronted with asit-in by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakis­tan (TLP) in 2017, whichcontinued for 20 days.

The IB, on Tuesday, filed a similar plea seeking withdrawal of its review petition as well.

Meanwhile, Pemra's plea stated that the review petitions are pending against the verdict and the SC has scheduled a hearing on September 28.

Pemra said the Civil Review Petition is pending adjudication before the SC and is fixed for a hearing on September 28.

Citing chairman Pemra, the authority stated: "That the competent authority (Chairman PEMRA) vide letter dated 26.09.2023 has desired that titled Civil Review Petitiun filed on behalf of PEMRA may be withdrawn and does not want to pursue the matter."

Copy of the petition. — Pemra

Last week, the apex court — in response to a series of review petitions submitted against its previous ruling — said that it would revisit the Faizabad sit-in case on September 28.

A three-member bench, led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and consisting of Justices Amin-ud-Din Khan and Athar Minallah, was set to hear the review proceedings.

Apart from Pemra and IB, the Defence Ministry, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmad had also filed a review plea.

Faizabad sit-in legal saga

This legal saga began on April 15, 2019, when the then-federal government, along with entities like the Defence Ministry, Intelligence Bureau, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), among others, filed review pleas contesting the apex court's judgement delivered by the incumbent Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa regarding the Faizabad sit-in case.

Earlier on February 6, 2019, a two-member bench of the apex court comprising the now-CJP Isa and Justice Mushir Alam recommended that persons, issuing an edict or fatwa to harm another person or put another person in the harm’s way must be dealt with iron hand and prosecuted under relevant laws.

It also ruled that the intelligence agencies must not exceed their respective mandates. Later, the bench disposed of a suo moto case regarding the 2017 Faizabad sit-in staged by the TLP.

The 43-page verdict issued by the two-judge bench and published on the apex court's website read: "Every citizen and political party has the right to assemble and protest provided such assembly and protest is peaceful and complies with the law imposing reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order. The right to assemble and protest is circumscribed only to the extent that it infringes on the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free movement and to hold and enjoy property."

In November 2017, the top court took suo motu notice of the three-week-long sit-in, which was held against a change in the finality-of-Prophethood oath, termed by the government as a clerical error, when the government passed the Elections Act 2017. The sit-in was called off after the protesters reached an agreement with the government.