ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday removed Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Chairman Chaudhry Abdul Rashid after a four-month confrontation with him.
According to an order, President Mamnoon Hussain dismissed Chaudhry Rashid and the government claimed that it had followed the modus operandi ‘prescribed’ by the court to remove him.
However, Chaudhry Rashid has decided to challenge his dismissal in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which is already hearing a case against him.
Sources told Dawn that the government was trying to lodge an FIR against Chaudhry Rashid to arrest him so that he could not move the court against his removal.
“The government removed the Pemra chairman in disregard of the fact that his case is being heard in the high court,” Mr Rashid’s lawyer Hafiz Arafat Ahmed said.
Lawyer Wasim Sajjad will file a petition in the high court on Friday against the removal.
A tug of war between the government and Chaudhry Rashid surfaced soon after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) came to power and started removing top officials of many organisations who were appointed by the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government. The chief of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) was one of them.
Apparently, the government wanted to appoint its ‘own’ man as Pemra chairman and therefore decided to dismiss Chaudhry Rashid on Dec 15 last year. It appointed another official of Pemra, Rao Tehsin, as its acting chairman.
The following day Chaudhry Rashid went to the Islamabad High Court, which nullified the appointment of Rao Tehsin as acting chairman and granted stay against the removal. It observed that due procedure had not been adopted, including issuance of a show cause notice and a charge-sheet citing reasons for the termination..
A source in Pemra said soon after the court’s order, the government issued a show cause notice and charge-sheet “to follow the instructions of the high court”.
Chaudhry Rashid was appointed Pemra chairman on Jan 26 last year by the PPP government.
The source said after the government failed to throw out Rashid from the office through administrative order, it used different tactics to force him to leave. Meanwhile, the government formed a three-member committee comprising members from the Pemra board. The Pemra chairman was rendered powerless as all his powers were transferred to the committee.
“An interesting situation arose when the committee struck down orders of Chaudhry Rashid and the latter cancelled the committee’s decisions,” the source said.
The lawyers of Chaudhry Rashid again filed a petition in the IHC informing the court that his all powers had been withdrawn and he was illegally stopped from performing his duties. The court is yet to announce its decision on the petition.
In the charge-sheet issued to Chaudhry Rashid, he was accused of giving landing rights to some private TV channels and indulging in corrupt practices. He refuted the allegations.