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Monday Apr 16 2018

Want to end government's control of PEMRA, make it independent: CJP


ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar remarked on Monday that the Supreme Court wants to end the government’s control over the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and observed that the institution should be an independent one. 

"There is no sword hanging over the government regarding this issue but this should be done," Chief Justice Nisar observed while heading a three-member bench hearing the media commission case.  

As the hearing went under way, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Rana Waqar informed the court that the government has formed a seven-member committee which will include prominent journalists and the chairman of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association. 

The committee will form a three-member panel to select an appropriate person as the head of PEMRA. The chief justice observed that it will take a lot of time for this to get done but the AAG assured that the task will be completed within three weeks. 

State Info Min Marriyum Aurangzeb. Photo: File 

The court then formed a search committee to appoint the chairperson for the authority but replaced State Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb with the information secretary, observing that the minister must be busy giving statements. 

The chief justice remarked that the minister will have difficulty taking time out for the committee. 

The minister often criticises the judiciary's decisions against party leader Nawaz Sharif. 

Anti-judiciary slogans

During the hearing, the chief justice observed that the court is displaying patience, explaining that anti-judiciary slogans were raised outside the apex court on Friday after the Article 62 verdict. 

The verdict ruled that persons disqualified under Article 62 (1)(f), including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, can never contest elections again. 

"I don’t know any lion. These are the real lions," the chief justice observed pointing towards the fellow judges, adding that, "respect should be shown [to us] equal to that given to elders". 

The ruling party's electoral symbol is a lion. 

Referring to the judiciary's critics, Chief Justice Nisar added that they take shelter behind women but if they had any honour they would appear in front themselves. 

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that the media’s independence is conditional on the judiciary, explaining that if the judiciary is weak then the media will be too. 

During the hearing, the AAG stated that they are aware that the issues raised by the chief justice will be concluded by him before leaving office.

The chief justice responded that this case was not initiated by him but he will conclude it.

Justice Saeed remarked that sometimes to close cases one has to 'close' people too.

The hearing was then adjourned for two weeks.

The media commission case is based on petitions filed by senior journalists Hamid Mir and Absar Alam in 2013 regarding issues faced by the media and the government's use of 'secret funds' to influence media. 

Alam was later appointed the PEMRA chairman but removed last year on the orders of the Lahore High Court. 


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