Malik Riaz on a TV show at a private channel. - YouTube video grab.

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court chief justice issued on Monday a notice to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on a writ petition seeking a ban on two anchorpersons of a private television channel allegedly for maligning the judiciary.

A citizen, Malik Ghulam Mustafa, filed the petition alleging that anchorpersons Mubashar Lucman and Mehar Bokhari conducted a planted interview of property developer Malik Riaz on a private TV channel.

He alleged the interview was an attempt to undermine the supremacy of judiciary and to bring a bad name to it.

He said the leaked “off-air” conversation between anchorpersons and the guest, Malik Riaz, exposed the real hands behind it as prime minister’s son Abdul Qadir Gilani made a phone call to Lucman and also talked to Riaz.

The petitioner alleged that both anchorpersons were blackmailers as they not only tried to defame the judiciary but also harass the nation.

He prayed to the court to summon both anchorpersons to reveal the truth behind the alleged conspiracy before the court and order penal action against them.

After hearing arguments, the chief justice issued a notice to the Pemra chairman and also accepted a plea of electronic media reporters to become a necessary party into the case.

The chief justice also dismissed as withdrawn another writ petition seeking constitution of a commission to probe into allegations of getting favours and grafts by anchorpersons of the electronic media from Malik Riaz.

The chief justice observed that the Supreme Court had already taken notice of the issue and also formed a two-member facts-finding committee. Therefore, the petitioner should wait till the findings of that committee. At this, the petitioner withdrew his petition.

The chief justice, however, observed that the media should introduce Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to make things transparent and impartial.

He further pointed out that independent media was essential for independent judiciary but it should follow a code of conduct. The electronic media reporters’ representative, Tanvir Shahzad, filed the petition.

REPLIES SOUGHT: The Lahore High Court sought on Monday replies from the Punjab health secretary and the Services Hospital medical superintendent on a petition questioning protective measures after a third fire incident at the hospital.

The petitioner submitted that the recent fire incident in the nursery ward of the hospital was third such incident at the public health facility.

He said that authorities had not learned any lesson from the unfortunate incident as no protective measures had been taken so far to avoid such incidents in future.

He said the authorities had also not taken any action against the responsible officials of the fire incident which claimed the lives of at least 10 newborn babies.

The petitioner prayed that directions be issued to respondents to take strict action against the responsible and adopt protective measures to prevent such calamities in future.

After hearing the contention, Justice Muhammad Khalid Mahmood Khan sought replies within 10 days.

HAJ QUOTA: The Lahore High Court chief justice on Monday issued notices to Religious Affairs Secretary Asim Samaa, Additional Secretary Arshad Bhatti and others on a contempt petition against them for ignoring court orders about awarding Haj quota to new tour operators.

Earlier, representing the petitioners (tour operators), Advocate Azhar Siddique argued the court had directed the Ministry of Religious Affairs to also allocate Haj quota among new tour operators. But, he said, the ministry was awarding quota to previously registered operators only.

The counsel pointed out that the LHC in its June 6 last order had remarked that Haj expenditures could not be reduced till the new operators were given quota.

He said the ministry issued a backdated notification and announced that quota of previously registered operators would be cancelled only on receipt of a complaint against them. However, he said, the court had ordered that only those operators should be awarded quota who met the criteria given in paragraph 19 of the Haj Policy 2012. Under the criteria at least 300 old operators were not eligible for the quota, he said.

The counsel prayed that proceedings under contempt of court charges be initiated against the ministry authorities for ignoring the court order.

The chief justice issued notices to the respondents and also directed Haj Director Malik Muhammad Saeed to appear in person on June 20 along with complete record of quota allocation.

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