The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on Thursday prohibited the broadcasting and rebroadcasting of content pertaining to the conduct of sitting high court and Supreme Court judges on electronic media with immediate effect.
In the prohibition order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the regulator referred to previous directives wherein all licencees were directed to “refrain from telecasting any content against state institutions”.
The authority noted that despite repeated directives, satellite television channels were “persistently discussing the conduct of honourable judges of superior courts and orchestrating a vilification campaign through airing slanderous allegations”.
It said that airing any sort of content which prima facie refers to the conduct of judges or is against the superior judiciary is a sheer violation of the authority’s laws and judgements of the apex court.
Pemra also gave a reference to Article 68 of the Constitution in its order. The law states: “No discussion shall take place in [Majlis-e- Shoora (Parliament)] with respect to the conduct of any Judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court in the discharge of his duties.”
“Therefore, the competent authority i.e. chairman Pemra, in exercise of delegated powers of the authority vested in Section 27(a) of the Pemra Ordinance 2002 as amended by Pemra (Amendment) Act 2007, prohibits broadcast/rebroadcast of any content pertaining to conduct of Honourable sitting judges of High Court and Supreme Court, in any manner, on electronic media (news bulletins, talks shows etc.), with immediate effect,” the order said.
The authority also directed all satellite TV channels to ensure that an effective Time Delay Mechanism is put in place and an “impartial editorial board” is constituted.
In case of non-compliance, the licence will be suspended under Section 30 of the Pemra Ordinance, 2002 without any show cause notice in the public interest, the order said.
Pemra’s directives come after audio leaks supposedly linked to a Supreme Court judge surfaced. On Feb 16, three audio clips, featuring former Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi were leaked on social media.
In one of the clips, Elahi was purportedly heard talking to the top court judge before whose bench he wanted a corruption case to be fixed. In another clip, his voice could be heard telling the judge that he was coming to meet him. The man on the other side tried to convince him that it would not be appropriate, but former Punjab chief minister Elahi insisted he was close by and would be coming without protocol and that he would pay salaam and leave.