LHC tells Pemra to stop 'anti-judiciary' speeches from airing on national media

Published August 24, 2017
A petitioner has moved the Lahore High Court seeking legal proceedings against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for criticising the Supreme Court and its judges. Photo: File
A petitioner has moved the Lahore High Court seeking legal proceedings against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for criticising the Supreme Court and its judges. Photo: File

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to prevent the airing 'anti-judiciary' speeches of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other PML-N parliamentary members till it deliberates the maintainability of a case regarding the same.

LHC Justice Mamnoon Rasheed Sheikh, hearing a contempt of court petition filed by Amaan Welfare Foundation President Amina Malik, issued notices to Pemra Chairman Absar Alam and to the regulatory authority's Council of Complaints (CoC) asking them to file a report regarding what the petitioner termed 'anti-judiciary speeches' made by the former premier and other PML-N parliamentarians in the past.

Pemra has been ordered to file the report by September 12 ─ the date of the next hearing of the case.

The contempt of court petition was filed by Malik earlier this month against the former premier and 13 federal and provincial ministers of the ruling PML-N for their outburst against the Supreme Court following Nawaz's disqualification in the Panamagate verdict.

The petitioner had asked the court to direct Pemra to stop "airing and telecasting the contemptuous, derogatory and defamatory speeches" allegedly made by Nawaz and PML-N ministers.

During Thursday's hearing, Malik's counsel Advocate Azhar Siddique argued that members of the parliament had made statements against the judiciary following the Panamagate verdict, maintaining that the statements were in contempt of court.

However, the government's lawyer argued that the petition was based on allegations and, therefore, could not be heard by the high court.

After hearing the petitioner's arguments in chambers, the judge ordered Pemra to ensure, while operating within the law, that no "anti-judiciary statements" made by Nawaz, his brother Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Minister for Railways Saad Rafique, and 16 other members of parliament are aired on media.

In a previous hearing, Siddique had argued that Nawaz and his team had also committed sedition by trying to defame state institutions of judiciary and army. Siddique had further alleged that Nawaz and his team had been trying to incite people against state institutions and asked the court to initiate contempt proceedings.

However, the petitioner has decided not to press proceedings on this issue for the time being.

Nawaz's tirade against judiciary

As he led a four-day procession from Islamabad to his hometown of Lahore earlier this month, Nawaz had made a number of speeches in different cities.

The contents of his speeches was seen in some quarters as being critical of the apex court.

"My government is gone now. Five judges sent me packing in one minute despite the votes of millions of people. Is this not an insult to the millions who voted for me?" Nawaz had said while addressing a crowd in Jhelum.

"Five 'respectable' judges, with one stroke of the pen, sent your prime minister packing. Can you bear this insult?" he had asked.

"And for what [was I deposed]? Was I implicated in any corruption? Even those judges know that I was not involved in any corruption," Nawaz added.

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