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June 28, 2019

Speaker has no power to stop media from using word 'Selected PM', say experts

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June 28, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The legal, constitutional experts and retired judges are unanimous that Speaker National Assembly cannot issue any ruling to stop the media from reporting the word ‘Selected Prime Minister’. The ruling is a violation of Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan, believe the experts.

Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaisar issued a verbal ruling that the media cannot report the word ‘Selected Prime Minister’ as it has been expunged from the proceedings of the house.

However, experts believe that as per the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the National Assembly the Speaker is responsible only for internal control of the Lower House. He has no control outside the National Assembly, therefore, he cannot give any ruling that what should be reported and what not.

Justice (retd) Nasira Javed Iqbal while talking to The News said there is no provision in the assembly rules or in the Constitution that the speaker can prohibit the media from reporting. “As for as I know, there is no provision in the Constitution of Pakistan or the assembly rules that the speaker of the assembly will prohibit the media from using any specific word like ‘Selected Prime Minister’. The Constitution or the laws are not made for these kind of petty issues”, commented Justice Nasira Javed Iqbal.

“Can the Speaker National Assembly erase the word ‘Selected’ from entire world’s dictionaries”, she asked. The Speaker cannot issue any ruling for media that what to report and what not, she said.

Talking to The News, former chairman Senate, Senator Raza Rabbani said the Speaker has no powers to stop media from reporting on any issue. However, if he has expunged the word ‘Selected Prime Minister’ then media can simply report this fact that Speaker has erased this word from assembly proceedings.

“The media should avoid using any word if it has been expunged from the assembly proceeding. However, the Speaker of the National Assembly has no authority for issuing the ruling to prohibit the media from reporting”, commented Senator Raza Rabbani.

Former chairman Senate, Waseem Sajjad, while talking to The News, said the Speaker has the powers to control the assembly proceedings only. What happened outside the assembly is not his business. Therefore, he cannot issue any ruling to prohibit the media from reporting on any issue. When asked if the Speaker has expunged a specific word ‘Selected Prime Minister’ from the assembly proceeding can the media report it, the former Senate chairman said the media can report only that the speaker has expunged this specific word.

Former president Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Kamran Murtaza, while talking to The News, said the Speaker ruling is a violation of Constitution of Pakistan. “By giving this ruling, the Speaker of the National Assembly has violated Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan. He cannot snub people’s right of freedom of speech. After this ruling someone can file a reference against the Speaker National Assembly because he has violated the Constitution”, commented the former SCBA president.

He however, said the media can report the facts only that the opposition parties called Prime Minister Imran Khan a ‘Selected Prime Minister’ but the Speaker expunged these words from assembly proceedings.

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