KARACHI: A lawyer on Tuesday informed the Sindh High Court that his client, a former lawmaker of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, was taken into custody for filing a petition seeking removal of a ban on media coverage of party founder Altaf Husain.

Former MQM MPA Nisar Ahmed Panhwar had last week filed the petition before the SHC stating that the ban on Mr Hussain was imposed in violation of several provisions of the Constitution and pleaded to lift the same.

When the matter came up for hearing on Tuesday, a two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh questioned the maintainability of the petition.

The chief justice asked about the written order regarding the ban and inquired whether the petitioner got any authority letter to move court on behalf of any other person.

The bench also inquired about the absence of Mr Panhwar. Upon which, his lawyer Khalid Mumtaz replied that his client was picked up last night and the court might take a suo motu notice against his detention.

While asking him about the provision that allowed a high court to take a suo motu notice, the bench directed the petitioner’s lawyer to satisfy it about the maintainability of the petition on the next hearing to be fixed by its office later.

Citing the federal interior, information and law secretaries and the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority as respondents, the petitioner in his petition contended that the ban on media coverage of MQM founder was made in violation of Articles 4, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution.

He stated that Mr Hussain had never violated any provision of law, but due to misinterpretation of his speeches, a ban was imposed against him, which was not sustainable.

The MQM founder time and again apologised politically from all quarters concerned in respect of any misunderstanding and misinterpretation of his speeches and therefore, he was entitled to take part in political activities, it maintained.

The petition further stated that Mr Hussain had not been convicted on the ground of hate speech in the UK as well as in Pakistan and sought directive for respondents to remove the ban.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2022

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