ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has challenged before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) the definition of ‘journalist’ as well as Section 6 of the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act, 2021.

PFUJ Secretary General Nasir Zaidi filed the writ petition in the Islamabad High Court through Journalists’ Defence Committee (JDC) of Pakistan Bar Council (PBC).

The petition contended that Section 6 of the said Act was neither in consonance with the preamble of the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act, 2021 nor with the Constitution of Pakistan. According to the petition, “this provision violates the general principles laid down by the constitutional court for imposition of restrictions on the constitutional rights and freedoms, particularly the right to freedom of speech and expression and information as guaranteed under Article 19 and 19A of the Constitution.”

Questioning the exclusion of photojournalists and camerapersons from the definition of ‘journalist’ in the Act, the PFUJ in its petition maintained that excluding photographers and camerapersons from the definition of the ‘journalist’ tantamount to undermine the profession and role of photojournalism in informing and educating citizens.

After hearing arguments of counsel Aftab Alam, Babar Hayat and Umar Gillani, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued notices to the federal ministry of information and broadcasting and federal ministry of human rights as well as attorney general to respond to the petition at next hearing on February 9.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2022

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