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LAHORE: For a fourth time, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali has constituted a full bench to hear petitions against alleged anti-judiciary speeches of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The full bench, headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and comprising Justice Atir Mahmood and Justice Shahid Jamil Khan, was scheduled to take up the petitions on Friday.

However, the bench stood dissolved before assembling as Justice Khan recused himself from the case citing personal reasons. Chief Justice Ali then reconstituted the bench replacing Justice Khan with Justice Chaudhry Muhammad Masood Jahangir. The new bench will resume hearing on April 9 (Monday).

The first bench was dissolved due to rescheduling of judges roster working at all seats of the high court. The second bench was dissolved after Justice Shahid Mubeen recused himself from the case.

The petitions moved by Amina Malik, Munir Ahmad and others mainly contend that the PML-N leaders, including Maryam Nawaz, have been making derogatory speeches against the judges of the Supreme Court since the verdict of Mr Sharif`s disqualification in the Panama Papers case.

The petitioners also contend that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has failed to act as an independent regulator, seeking judicial order for the authority to restrain media houses from airing anything against state laws and institutions.

They said that Pemra had been wilfully allowing broadcasting of hate speeches, defamatory and contemptuous remarks on television channels as it took no action to enforce its code of conduct and rules.

The petitioners argued that the Pemra officials needed to realise that they were not working on PML-N’s payroll and had to protect citizens of Pakistan and institutions in every regard.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2018