ISLAMABAD - ARY Communications (Pvt) Limited has challenged Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s decision banning its prorgramme “Live With Dr Shahid Masood” for 45 days for allegedly casting aspersions on the Sindh High Court chief justice.

Mr Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb of Islamabad High Court conducted the hearing of ARY Communications’ writ petition and directed Pemra to depute an officer not below the rank of a director to explain under what authority of law it had imposed this ban.

The IHC also served notices on the Pemra chairman and its council of complaints and deferred the hearing till August 17 for further proceedings.

The petitioner (ARY Communications) made Pemra and its council of complaints respondents and filed the appeal against the electronic media regulator’s order dated August 10 under Section 30-A of Pemra Ordinance 2002 banning the said programme for 45 days.

According to Pemra, a show-cause notice was issued on July 19 and the channel was given seven days to respond, but the reply received on July 23 was unprofessional and no apology was tendered.

The ARY in its petition before the IHC took the plea that Pemra did not hear its version and unilaterally imposed the ban of 45 days. It further submitted that the respondents disregarded statement of the appellant without mentioning any lawful reason and failed to appraise the contentions raised therein whereas the stance adopted by the respondents was considered appropriate without looking into its veracity and plausibility. It added the impugned order was passed without ascertaining the actual and factual position.

The petitioner stated that by stopping the prime time show for 45 days, the authority had indirectly imposed fine, causing a loss of millions of rupees to the petitioner.

The ARY counsel contended the Pemra chairman did not have privilege of taking a suo motu action as any action could be initiated either on the complaint filed by a person or organization from the public at large, he said.

He continued that imposing a ban on a television show did not come under the preview of the council of complaints. He prayed to the court to set aside the Pemra order, declaring it unlawful and void.