ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the registration of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) as a political party and issued notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to submit a comprehensive report pertaining to its jurisdiction of taking action against political parties.
The court also sought report from Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) over suspension of transmission of Geo and Dawn TV during the Faizabad sit-in held last year by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, chief of Tehreek-e-Labaik.
A two-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faez Isa resumed hearing in a suo motu case of Faizabad sit-in held last year which paralysed the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad for over two weeks.
During the hearing, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan, Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood, Secretary Defence Ikramul Haq, Director Legal Ministry of Defence Col (R) Falak Naz and representative from Pemra appeared before the court. Attorney General Anwar Mansoor submitted that the Ministry of Defence has submitted a fresh report and answered all the questions, raised by the court.
Justice Mushir Alam asked the attorney general whether the Tehreek-e-Labaik that staged sit-in is a registered political party and if yes then when it was registered. The AG replied that it was registered before the sit-in.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa then asked the AG about his view of the said sit-in, adding as to whether the activities during the sit-in were constitutional? The AG replied that lodging a peaceful protest is the constitutional right of everyone, but the manner in which Tehreek-e-Labaik staged protest was unlawful as it had paralysed the life of people of twin cities.
Justice Faez Isa then asked whether everyone could register a political party? The AG replied that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is the competent authority for the registration of a political party.
Justice Faez Isa again asked the AG whether the ECP can take action against any political party that was involved in illegal activities. The AG replied in the affirmative. The court then asked the AG to read out the last order issued by the court on April 25, 2018 which the AG read out.
Justice Faez Isa asked the AG why the order of the court was not implemented regarding the suspension of transmission of Geo TV and Dawn TV besides non-availability of Jang newspaper in some areas of the country.
The AG said that there was no truth in off-airing of transmission of these channels to which Justice Faez Isa said Pemra had admitted it on last hearing. On last hearing, held on April 25, the court had taken strong exception to closure of transmission of Geo and Dawn and had directed Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood to ensure that transmission of Geo and Dawn news are available all over Pakistan to the citizens of the country and publications of Jang should also be available to the citizens.
On Thursday, DG Operation Pemra when asked about the matter, said that no written complaint was received by the Authority regarding closure of transmission of Geo and Dawn.
Justice Faez Isa admonished the official for contravention of the court’ last order and asked whether the official deserves to be on the said position. “Shall we charge sheet him for the making false statement”, Justice Faez Isa asked the AG.
The attorney general said that before charge sheeting, an investigation should be conducted in the matter. The court issued notice to the Election Commission to submit a comprehensive report pertaining to its jurisdiction of taking action against political parties.
The court also sought report from Pemra over suspension of transmission of Geo and Dawn TV during the Faizabad sit-in and adjourned the hearing until second week of November.