ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led government is looking to give another four-year term to the chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), whose time in office is set to expire on June 26.

This came to light during the hearing of the petition, filed by a sacked general manager of Pemra, challenging the appointment of Mirza Saleem Baig as chairman of the electronic media watchdog.

Baig was appointed to the position during the interim government in June 2018.

As per the petition, filed before the IHC last year, he did not possess the requisite educational qualification for the said post.

IHC Justice Aamer Farooq resumed hearing on the petition on Monday.

During the hearing, when Justice Farooq asked Pemra’s legal adviser about the extension, he replied that he could seek the requisite information from the authority.

The court then directed him to submit a report on the matter within a fortnight.

The Information Ministry on May 27 had sought an opinion from the Ministry of Law and Justice regarding the procedure for the reappointment of the Pemra chairman, asking “as to whether the federal government shall initiate the process through an advertisement or a summary for approval of the cabinet.”

The law ministry, citing a judgement of the Islamabad High Court regarding the reappointment of the commissioner of the Securities and Exchange commission of Pak, opined “on the analogy of the aforementioned principle settled in the judgement of IHC, it is advised that in terms of section 7 of the ordinance, the referring division may reappoint the incumbent chairman without going for the process of advertisment.”

Former information secretary Shafqat Jalil also said that a re-appointment and extension were identical.

He said the government can re-appoint a chairman without inviting applications from the candidates and without any competitive process.

According to him, since the Chairman is appointed after completing the codal formalities and after a thorough scrutiny, hence, there is no question of his eligibility and he could be re-appointed.

However, Pemra General Manager Mohammad Tahir told Dawn the Supreme Court had defined the procedure for the appointment of the Pemra chief, which was the exclusive domain of the government while the president gives a final nod to the said appointment.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2022

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