ISLAMABAD - A division bench of the Islamabad High Court on Thursday reserved a verdict in on an appeal of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association, challenging the single bench’s verdict, banning lottery and gambling programmes during Ramazan.

The IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani reserved the judgment after hearing arguments on the intra-court appeal (ICA) of the PBC.

During the hearing, Advocate Waqas Malik, on whose petition the May 9 judgment was issued, and who is a respondent in the ICA, said that he after observing ‘indecency’ on TV channels had initially filed the petition against PEMRA.

He said that TV channels air such programmes during Ramazan that were not in accordance with “family values and Islamic teachings while morning shows were more obscene”.

Advocate Malik said that if TV channels air five times Azan during the 10 percent dedicated public welfare airtime, it would produce “good image”. 

Another counsel Inamul Rahiem adopted that the single bench had made no illegal decision in the matter and has just asked PEMRA to implement the guidelines related to Ramazan transmissions.

A law officer for PEMRA submitted guidelines and informed the court that they were being issued to TV channels since 2016.

Counsel for PBA Barrister Ali Zafar contended that his client was aggrieved by the order of the single bench which had imposed a complete ban on certain programmes like “Neelam Ghar” and issued various directions to TV channels about what to show and what not to show as well as the timings of the programmes.

In addition, he said, the bench had also formed a censor board to view programmes and also formed a committee to oversee the working of the PEMRA.

Barrister Zafar said that the court had banned entertainment programmes before 9 pm during the month of Ramazaan on the assumption that entertainment programmes were “immoral and indecent”. He maintained that the court has no jurisdiction under the Constitution and the law to pass such directions and ban all entertainment programmes. He relied on Article 19 about ‘freedom of speech and expression and ‘freedom of press’ which he said was a fundamental right guaranteed to the people and only the Parliament could impose reasonable restrictions on these rights only through laws.

He contended that the said judgment was wholly illegal and void as no court could impose its version of indecency and morality on the public. He prayed to the court to declare the single bench verdict as null and void.

Meanwhile, IHC judge Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb accepted a petition of former federal minister for religious affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi, seeking to unfreeze his bank accounts and properties.

The IHC bench directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to unfreeze bank accounts and properties of Kazmi.

Kazmi had contended that he was falsely implicated for irregularities in Hajj operations in 2010 and a special judge central convicted him on June 3, 2016. He had filed an appeal in the IHC that was allowed on March 8, 2017 acquitting him of all charges framed against him in the trial. He had argued that FIA authorities during the investigation of the case had directed revenue authorities to hold in abeyance the transfer of property of the petitioner barring him from sale or purchase or disposal of the property.

According to him, the FIA authorities also froze his Pakistani rupee and foreign currency bank accounts in Islamabad and Multan.