LAHORE, May 4: A Lahore High Court full bench on Saturday disposed of a petition of Shahbaz Sharif challenging a particular paid-advertisement of PPP-Parliamentarians after the Election Commission produced a directive issued to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) requiring immediate stoppage of the paid-content.
A representative of the ECP presented before the bench the directive that asked the Pemra chairman to instruct all media channels to immediately stop airing of the advertisement and other defamatory political advertisements against any politician as well.
The ECP further directed the authority to inquire as to who was paying for the advertisement in question. A paid-content contained an alleged telephonic conversation between Shahbaz Sharif and Justice (retired) Malik Muhammad Qayum.
The bench observed that after the action taken by the ECP, the court’s involvement in the matter was not required. The bench disposed of the petition as the petitioner’s counsel also conceded.
Earlier at the outset of the hearing, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan and Sardar Latif Khan Khosa appeared on behalf of PPP-Parliamentarians and PPP, respectively.
Both started their arguments in an aggressive manner and objected to the maintainability of the petition moved by Shahbaz Sharif.
Doubting the alleged haste shown by the judges in the case, Barrister Ahsan said the stay order passed by the bench on Friday had various lacunas. He went on to say that the court passed an incorrect order. He said as to what urgency was involved in the matter that the court held hearing of the petition after the court’s timings. He even objected to the Saturday’s hearing, the day when judges normally do not hold courts.
Barrister Ahsan and Mr Khosa also complained to the court that they had to miss their election campaign due to the hearing fixed on Saturday.
At one stage, the bench cautioned Mr Ahsan to concentrate on legal arguments and avoid taunting the court.
He argued that the alleged tape being aired on the television channels was not a private but part of public life of Shahbaz. He said the same tape was presented before Supreme Court in 2001 and since then nobody challenged it at any forum. He pointed out that two judges of the LHC were sent home after the said tape was revealed to public.
When asked whether the tape in question was verified by any responsible department of the country, Mr Ahsan said the question of voice verification could not be addressed at this (LHC) forum.
Advocates Ashtar Ausaf and Salman Aslam Butt appeared on behalf of Shahbaz and did not press the petition when the bench decided to dispose of the matter in light of the letter submitted by the ECP.
On Friday, the bench had stayed the airing of the paid-content and issued notices to the parties.