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September 16, 2019

SHC serves notices on appeal of KU teacher over smear campaign


September 16, 2019

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued notices to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), the council of complaints chairman and three private TV channels on an appeal of University of Karachi’s associate professor in which he sought a direction for Pemra on his complaint against private TV channels.

Dr Mohammad Osama Shafiq submitted that Pemra had given a non-speaking and arbitrary order on his complaint before the council of complaints against some private TV channels for spreading false and baseless reports about him and other teachers with regard to sexual harassment. He submitted that the council of complaints’ recommendations were neither shared with the complainant nor reproduced in the impugned order of Pemra issued on August 5, which disposed of the case without issuing any appropriate order on his complaint.

He submitted that private TV channels had failed to comply with the provisions of the Pemra ordinance and continued to telecast baseless reports against him despite the fact that neither female students nor any of their parents had lodged any complaint against him with the university administration. He submitted that the respondent TV channels made a mountain out of molehill by highlighting something about which they did not have any credible information.

He submitted that Pemra, on recommendations of the council of complaints, was bound to pass an appropriate order under its laws but no such recommendations had been cited in the impugned order so as to make clear as what action the council had actually recommended to be taken or not taken against the TV channels for running a vilification campaign against him.

The appellant’s counsel submitted that Pemra passed a non-speaking order on his complaint without providing any reasons which was a clear violation of the Section 24 A of the General Clauses Act 1897 which stipulated that the order passed under an enactment should be passed justly and fairly.

He submitted that Pemra had not brought on record the recommendations made by the council of complaints under the section 26 (5) of the Pemra ordinance which made the impugned order a nullity in the eye of law.

The SHC was requested to set aside the impugned order of Pemra and direct it to pass an appropriate order afresh in the interest of substantive justice and strictly in accordance with the legal framework of security of reputation and respect provided by the media laws after taking into accounts all material that backed up the complaint. He also sought a copy of the council of complaints’ recommendations given to Pemra on the appellant’s complaint.

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