Tuesday July 23, 2024

SHC suspends Pemra’s post-May 9 order

By Jamal Khurshid
November 14, 2023
The Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — Facebook/The High Court of Sindh, Karachi
The Sindh High Court building in Karachi. — Facebook/The High Court of Sindh, Karachi 

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday suspended the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s letter to media outlets about restrictions on telecasting certain political activities and speeches on electronic media.

The interim order came on a lawsuit filed by Mohammad Tehamas Ali Khan, an office bearer of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, who challenged the direction of the Pemra to satellite TV channels not to promote any hate mongers, perpetrator and their facilitators inadvertently.

Tehamas submitted that the impugned letter does not mention either the political party or its leader and only refers to zealots. The PEMRA has asked the TV channels to ensure that hate mongers, rioters and their facilitators are completely screened out from the media. He said that no instance had been given to the channels as to who was to be blocked out and Pemra’s order empowers it to censor the political speech of anyone disliked by the government.

He said that the Pemra had bypassed the Council of Complaints by issuing this prohibition order. The order was passed to control the free media and stifle political speech and activities.

SHC Justice Mahmood A Khan heard the counsel of the plaintiff and Pemra. The court observed that despite intimation no response was found from the federal government’s law officer despite intimation. The court, for a reason to be recorded later on, granted the stay application of the plaintiff and suspended Pemra’s letter till further orders.

The Pemra had said in its order that the events of May 9 were aimed at ‘weakening the federation’ by promoting anti-state sentiments. It said that TV channels should refrain from providing airtime to such individuals who propagate hate speech and provoke public sentiments against the federation and state institutions.