The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday asked Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) representatives whether the blocking of transmission of a protest in Islamabad takes precedence in the eyes of the regulator over attacks on the judiciary.
A three-member bench of the LHC posed the question while hearing contempt of court petitions against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and other PML-N leaders.
"People are talking against the judiciary: does this not warrant action from Pemra?" the LHC asked while comparing the issue with the regulator's prompt decision to block the transmission of last year's Faizabad dharna in Islamabad.
The LHC subsequently directed Pemra to submit a reply on why Pemra acts strictly in some matters while showing leniency in others.
It also asked why Pemra has not taken any action on a number of complaints filed since June 2017 and directed the authority to submit a record of all complaints it received. A transcript of speeches made by Nawaz and Maryam was also sought.
Justice Mazaher Ali Akbar Naqvi asked: "Why did Pemra not prevent contemptuous speeches from being aired when a a method [to do so] is available?"
"Were you waiting for somebody's directions?" Justice Masood Jahangir added.
"Pemra is not required to act only when a complaint is submitted. It also has a responsibility of its own," Justice Naqvi continued. "This issue does not concern an individual: is a national matter," he added.
He also asked Pemra to explain whether it had powers to act of its own accord.
Advocate Azhar Siddique, who is representing one of the petitioners, responded that this was not so. He pointed to the 'double standards' of Pemra in acting against complaints.
"Pemra kept channels closed for two days over the Faizabad sit-in, which was not its job," he argued.
During the proceedings, advocate A.K. Dogar submitted a power of attorney document to represent Nawaz Sharif in the court. Dogar also reminded the court that petitions of a similar nature have already been dismissed by the Supreme Court.
He also objected to the proceedings being held without Pemra's lawyer present, at which he was assured that any decision would be given in the presence of the regulator's counsel.
The proceedings were later adjourned to April 16.