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Pemra law amendment: IHC directs information ministry to consult media stakeholders

February 18, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to share a copy of proposed amendments in Pemra law with the respondents, which is meant to provide a legal forum to address the issues faced by electronic media journalists.

During proceedings, the court was informed that due to financial constraints, the ITNE tribunals at provincial offices had not yet been established. At this, the chief justice directed the secretary information to take up the matter with the Ministry of Finance to provide budgetary support.

Chief Justice Aamer Farooq heard the identical cases filed by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Islamabad High Court Journalists Association (IHCJA) seeking measures for the protection of journalists’ rights.

Secretary Information Shahera Shahid, Secretary Law and Justice Raja Naeem Akbar, Additional Attorney General Munawar Dogal, petitioners’ lawyers and representatives of journalists’ bodies appeared before the court.

At the outset of the hearing, the officials of the Information Ministry informed the bench that amendments had been proposed to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) law to protect the rights of journalists. At this point, the court instructed the ministry to share a copy of the proposed amendments with the respondents.

The chief justice remarked that it would be appropriate to expedite the legislative process given the importance of the rights of media workers, as the issue had been pending for a while.

The Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) also submitted its application through its lawyer Faisal Siddiqi Advocate to become a party in the case. Addressing the lawyer, the Chief Justice asked why the PBA wanted to create a hurdle when the matter was being brought for the legislation process.

The PBA’s lawyer responded that they did not deny the exploitation of working journalists. His client was an important party to be affected by the proposed legislation and hence, PBA needed to be part of the case. However, he emphasized that the protection of electronic media workers needed to be addressed through appropriate legislation.

Chief Justice Aamer Farooq remarked at the end that it was necessary to consult all stakeholders of the media industry before the legislation because the case had been pending before the court since 2021. The court allowed the PBA to become a party to the case and adjourned the hearing till March 3.