KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday dismissed a petition seeking removal of a ban on the media coverage of speeches of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain.
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed dismissed the plea for not being maintainable.
Nisar Ahmed Panhwar, a former minister and lawmaker affiliated with the MQM, had last year filed the petition before the SHC stating that the ban of Mr Hussain’s media coverage was arbitrarily imposed and pleaded to lift the same.
Last month, the SHC had also turned down an identical petition filed by Mohammad Aftabuddin Baqai seeking a similar relief for the MQM founder.
At the outset of the hearing on Tuesday, the bench asked petitioner’s counsel Khalid Mumtaz about the maintainability of the plea and the locus standi of his client.
The counsel replied that his client was a former minister of the MQM and still a follower and supporter of the MQM founder and his ideology.
He submitted that tens of thousands of followers of the MQM founder were willing to watch and listen to his speeches on the media.
Citing the 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 the MQM founder was made in violation of Articles 4, 17, 19 and 25 of the Constitution.
He maintained 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 petitioner also contended that the MQM founder had time and again apologised politically to all quarters concerned for any misunderstanding and misinterpretation of his speeches and, therefore, he was entitled to take part in political activities.
Submitting that Mr Hussain had not been convicted on the ground of hate speech in the UK as well as in Pakistan, he sought a directive for the respondents to remove the ban.
Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2023