ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) observed on Monday that the high courts are not meant to entertain petitions against news reports since the proper forum is the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP).

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani made this observation while dismissing a petition filed against an English daily alleging that the newspaper misrepresented Kashmiri freedom fighters.

Although the newspaper referred to the embattled Kashmiris as freedom fighters, advocate Abdullah Tahir, the petitioner, cited a discussion on social media and sought the court’s decree against the newspaper.

“The high court cannot analyse a news item,” observed Justice Kayani.

Abdullah Tahir replied that Article 199 empowered courts to enforce fundamental rights.

“Cite me a single precedence where superior courts have ever passed an order over a news item,” the judge said.

“Do you know there is a proper forum for filing complaints against publications?” Justice Kayani asked the petitioner.

The advocate replied that the forum was the Press Council of Pakistan. However, he added that the council was not taking action against the newspaper.

“Did you register your complaint with the PCP?” asked Justice Kayani.

The petitioner replied in the negative, saying that he did not do so because the PCP was reluctant to proceed against the newspaper.

He pleaded with the court to issue a notice to the newspaper in order to put some pressure on the media house.

“If your contentions are to be accepted, the courts would have to order shutting down of the entire television and newspaper industry,” remarked the judge.

The petitioner then diverted the attention of the judge towards an article and alleged that the newspaper was promoting homosexuality.

Justice Kayani observed that the article was written in connection with a judgement of the Indian Supreme Court.

Abdullah Tahir requested the court to issue a notice to the newspaper, but Justice Kayani pronounced the words “the petition is dismissed”.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2018

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