LHC suspends Pemra order banning Imran Khan's speeches

Ban was imposed on deposed prime minister last week for continuously heaping scorn on state institutions

Shahid Hussain
View of the Lahore high Court building. — LHC website
View of the Lahore high Court building. — LHC website

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday suspended Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) order, banning the broadcast of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan’s speeches.

Justice Shams Mehmood Mirza announced the suspension of the order in a verdict he had reserved earlier today. The judge also admitted the PTI chief's request for the formation of a full bench and sent the case to the LHC chief justice.

The judge after announcing the verdict adjourned the hearing till March 13.

On Sunday, Pemra slapped a ban on the live broadcast of the deposed prime minister after he heaped scorn on state institutions amid drama over his arrest from Zaman Park in the Toshakhana case. Subsequently, Khan filed a petition in the LHC for the annulment of the ban, accusing the regulatory authority of exceeding its constitutional powers by imposing the restriction.

Today, LHC’s Justice Mirza took up the plea for a hearing and inquired about the grounds of the case.

Khan's lawyer informed the court that an earlier ban imposed by Pemra was also suspended by the Islamabad High Court.

At this, Pemra’s lawyer opposed the argument and argued that the case was in IHC's jurisdiction and not in the LHC.

"A five-member bench has heard a case of similar nature on Monday," the lawyer maintained while requesting the court to forward the plea to a larger bench.

At this, the LHC had reserved its verdict. 

LHC seeks security plan for Imran Khan

Meanwhile, the high court also heard a separate plea filed by the PTI chief for security and permission to appear via video link in courts.

The court remarked that the individuals related to the relief sought in the petition were not even a party in the case.

At this, Khan's lawyer Salman Safdar informed the court that some of the parties had been removed from the petition after the objections were raised on the plea.

He said that the plea had been filed on Monday and fixed for the hearing yesterday after the removal of objections.

At this, Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh remarked that the petition was very confusing.

The court asked the lawyer if they wanted foolproof security for Khan.

"Does a former prime minister get the security," it asked.

At this, the lawyer responded positively while Justice Sheikh directed him to make corrections in the petition.

"Bring the petition after correction and the court will take it up today," he added. 

When the hearing reconvened, Khan's lawyer informed the court that the corrections had been made in the plea.

"There is a law for the provision of security for a former premier," he maintained.

He told the court that Khan had been given security but it was withdrawn on January 19.

At this, the federal government's lawyer maintained that the provision of security was a subject of provincial government.

Meanwhile, Justice Sheikh remarked that there was a security issue in this court, however, the petitioner needs to approach a relevant court for permission of appearance via video link.

The court then directed the provincial and federal governments' lawyers to assist the court after taking directives on provision of security by Monday.

At this, Khan's lawyer requested the court to provide security to Khan immediately.

However, the court told him to wait till the government lawyers bring the security plan, and issued notices to Punjab inspector general of police and home department.