time Monday Aug 29 2022

IHC suspends PEMRA notification banning airing of Imran Khan's live speeches

PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses a jalsa in this undated photo. — Instagram/File
PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses a jalsa in this undated photo. — Instagram/File

  • IHC suspends PEMRA's order till September 5.
  • Notices issued to PEMRA, attorney-general.
  • IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issues order.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority's (PEMRA) recent notification which prohibited television channels from airing PTI Chairman Imran Khan's live speeches.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah suspended the notification till September 5 and observed that the regulatory authority "does not have the authority" to issue such orders.

Barristers Ali Zafar represented Khan at the hearing, which was headed by the IHC CJ. In it, the PTI lawyer argued that Khan wanted to do a live telethon later today to raise funds for flood affectees.

After hearing the arguments, the IHC chief justice suspended the notification and issued notices to the regulatory authority and Attorney-General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali.

The PEMRA ban came into place on August 21 after the PTI chairman threatened state institutions and government officials with serious consequences.

PEMRA's notification said that Khan's addresses are in open violation of the regulator's rules and Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

According to the regulator, the ban has been put in place under Section 27 of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002. The PEMRA notification cited Khan's speech at the F9 Park, Islamabad as the reason behind the ban.

Apart from the ban, Khan is also facing contempt of court proceedings for threatening Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry during the same speech.

The IHC has constituted a five-member larger bench to hear the contempt of court case against the former prime minister and issued a notice to him to appear before the court on August 31.

'Cannot ban speeches based on objectionable comments'

During today's hearing, the IHC chief justice mentioned that PEMRA "cannot ban speeches based on objectionable comments" and if someone is seeking action, contempt of court proceedings are already underway.

The judge also mentioned that whatever was happening in the case of PTI leader Shahbaz Gill was not right and that torture could not be accepted in any form.

"The culture of our police stations is torture [...] when the executive is in power, they forget that in police stations, people get tortured," the IHC chief justice mentioned.

But Justice Minallah also said that the "biggest torture" in the country is the missing person issue — and he has time and again put blame on the governments in this regard.

He told Khan's counsel that the PTI "spoiled" its own case of torture regarding Gill when the former prime minister delivered the hard-hitting speech.