The Lahore High Court on Monday orders the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to ban anti-judiciary speeches by politicians for 15 days. 

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A three-judge full bench led by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi observed this while hearing petitions against alleged anti-judiciary remarks made by ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and other PML-N leaders.

Earlier, during the course of the hearing, bench head Justice Syed Mazahar repeatedly questioned Pemra’s inaction. The court asked if it should exercise its suo motu powers to stop tirade against the state institution.

Advocate AK Dogar formally filed his power of attorney on behalf of Nawaz Sharif and Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar to represent Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

During hours-long hearing, the court was made a request for an adjournment since Advocate Salman Akram Raja, counsel for the Pemra was unavailable.

Advocate Dogar argued that any proceedings in the absence of the Pemra’s counsel would be deemed “as without jurisdiction”.

Justice Naqvi assured the counsel that he should not have any anxiety as the court was not going to pass any order without hearing Pemra counsel.

Advocate Tarar also assailed maintainability of the petitions and pointed out that the Supreme Court had already dismissed the identical petitions on merits.

Justice Atir Mahmood, another member of the bench, observed that the Supreme Court showed grace by not initiating contempt proceedings.

To a court’s query, the lawyer admitted that the complaints mentioned in the petitions in hand were before the apex court passed the decision.

At this point, Justice Naqvi observed that the ongoing speeches by the respondents were not against any specific judge but against the whole institution of judiciary.

Petitioners’ counsel Azhar Siddique pointed out that the Pemra had put all television channels off the air for two days during last year’s Faizabad (Islamabad) sit-in by a party. But it did not take action on the alleged tirade of politicians against the judiciary.

Justice Naqvi regretted that the Pemra had been working discriminately as it showed leniency in some cases while took prompt action in others.

Justice Ch Masood Jahangir asked acting chairman Ashraf Jumani if Pemra was waiting for someone’s orders to take action.

Jumani said Pemra had been looking into the matter and also sought suggestions from Pakistan Broadcasters Association, an organisation of television channels’ owners.

The bench adjourned hearing till April 16 and directed Pemra to submit transcripts of the anti-judiciary speeches and record of the proceedings on the complaints filed by the petitioners.