Thursday May 23, 2024

Caretaker govt makes Pemra powerful through amendment

By Sohail Khan
June 08, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The caretaker government made an amendment in the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) law, curtailing the control of federal government over the authority for suspending the transmission of TV channels by passing direct orders.

Secretary Information Ahmad Jamal Sukhera on Thursday informed a three-member bench of the Supreme headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar hearing Media Commission case, that in pursuance of the court direction, the caretaker Government has promulgated Pemra Amendment ordinance.

In lieu of the amendment, the Pemra will become an independent regulatory authority.

Following the amendment, there will be no control of the federal government by passing direct orders for shutting down transmission of Television channels while the powers of the Chairman of Pemra has been increased making him more liberal to take decisions.

Similarly, the Members of Pemra have been reduced from 11 to eight. Of the eight members, five will be non-government officials and three will be government officials.

Following the decision of the caretaker government, the court disposed of the media commission case after span of six years and conducting 100 hearings in the matter.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, the other day while hearing the Media Commission case had directed the caretaker government to make an amendment in the Pemra

Anchorperson Hamid Mir in his petition had pleaded the court to make amendments in Section 5 and 6 of the Pemra Ordinance.

On Thursday, Chief Justice while disposing of the matter observed that after the freedom of Pemra, court will give freedom to PTV and would like to see it like BBC of Pakistan.

The Chief Justice had also ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to issue notification for the appointment of new Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) so that the Chairman could implement the amendment made in the law in letter and spirit.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan lifted the ban on appointment of Chairman PEMRA.

"I am directed to refer to your letter No 2 (2) 2018-Secretary, dated June 6, 2018 on the subject and to convey the permission for appointment of Chairman PEMRA as per direction of the Supreme Court”, says the letter dispatched by the Election Commission of Pakistan to Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, available with The News .

It is pertinent to mention here that Anchorperson Hamid Mir had filed a petition in 2012 in Supreme Court along with Absar Alam and demanded accountability and reforms in media.

First of all the Supreme Court freezed secret fund of information ministry and names of many journalists were made public who were getting money from ministry.

Similarly, the apex court also established a media commission in 2013 on the demand of petitioners and this commission submitted its report in March 2013.

The PML-N Govt failed to implement the recommendations of media commission but SC enforced a code of conduct for electronic media in 2015 which was formulated by petitioners and other stake holders.

Later on, Absar Alam one of the petitioners was appointed Chairman Pemra and he became respondent in the same case then Hamid Mir fought this case all alone and demanded amendment in Pemra law.

Meanwhile, commenting on the development, Hamid Mir said that it was a very tiring and painful experience to go into public interest litigation in superior courts for six long years. He said that he saw six CJPs in six years and finally Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar started hearing the case in February on regular basis.

He said that the PML-N government was not liberalising the Pemra but finally on the pressure of Supreme Court approved amendment in Pemra law in their last cabinet meeting on May 31 and now the caretaker government promulgated its first ordinance about amendment in Pemra.

“This is a victory of all those who believe in independence of media and I am very thankful to Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and my lawyer Babar Sattar who played major role in preparing draft of the amendments in Pemra law”, Hamid Mir told The News.