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Sunday May 19, 2024

After IB, Pemra withdraws review plea against Faizabad sit-in case

"Pemra does not wish to pursue the revision petition," its plea reads

By Maryam Nawaz
September 27, 2023
View of Pemras building in Islamabad. — Information Ministry/website
View of Pemra's building in Islamabad. — Information Ministry/website

After the Intelligence Bureau (IB) requested to withdraw its review petition against the Faizabad sit-in verdict, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) also Wednesday decided to pull its plea in the case.

A day earlier, the IB decided to withdraw its review petition contesting the Supreme Court's judgment delivered by the incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa in the case.

Pemra, too, filed a separate petition in the SC to withdraw its review petition against the verdict issued in 2019, following the sit-in by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakis­tan (TLP) in Islamabad's Faizabad city, which continued for 20 days in 2017.

The regulatory body's plea stated that the review petitions are pending against the verdict and the SC has scheduled a hearing on September 28.

Pemra said the Civil Review Petition is pending adjudication before the SC and is fixed for a hearing on September 28.

Citing chairman Pemra, the authority stated: "That the competent authority (Chairman PEMRA) vide letter dated 26.09.2023 has desired that titled Civil Review Petitiun filed on behalf of PEMRA may be withdrawn and does not want to pursue the matter."

Copy of the petition. — Pemra
Copy of the petition. — Pemra

Last week, the apex court — in response to a series of review petitions submitted against its previous ruling — said that it would revisit the Faizabad sit-in case on September 28.

A three-member bench, led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and consisting of Justices Amin-ud-Din Khan and Athar Minallah, was set to hear the review proceedings.

Apart from Pemra and IB, the Defence Ministry, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmad had also filed a review plea.

Faizabad sit-in legal saga

This legal saga began on April 15, 2019, when the then-federal government, along with entities like the Defence Ministry, Intelligence Bureau, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), among others, filed review pleas contesting the apex court's judgement delivered by the incumbent Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa regarding the Faizabad sit-in case.

Earlier on February 6, 2019, a two-member bench of the apex court comprising the now-CJP Isa and Justice Mushir Alam recommended that persons, issuing an edict or fatwa to harm another person or put another person in the harm’s way must be dealt with iron hand and prosecuted under relevant laws.

It also ruled that the intelligence agencies must not exceed their respective mandates. Later, the bench disposed of a suo moto case regarding the 2017 Faizabad sit-in staged by the TLP.

The 43-page verdict issued by the two-judge bench and published on the apex court's website read: "Every citizen and political party has the right to assemble and protest provided such assembly and protest is peaceful and complies with the law imposing reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order. The right to assemble and protest is circumscribed only to the extent that it infringes on the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free movement and to hold and enjoy property."

In November 2017, the top court took suo motu notice of the three-week-long sit-in, which was held against a change in the finality-of-Prophethood oath, termed by the government as a clerical error, when the government passed the Elections Act 2017. The sit-in was called off after the protesters reached an agreement with the government.