LAHORE - The reckless reporting by different television channels and LHC PRO’s unresponsiveness turned out to be the major reasons behind the misreporting about the ban on the anti-judiciary speeches.

A three-judge bench of the Lahore High Court on Monday announced its decision on the pleas against anti-judiciary speeches by PML-N leaders – including ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

As soon as the verdict was announced in an open court at 1:34pm, most of the TV channels started reporting it while giving an impression that the court had specifically targeted the 16 ruling party leaders in its judgment.

The Supreme Court took a suo motu on the issue as the ban was being presented as denying these leaders their fundamental right of freedom of expression.

It transpired during the apex court hearing that the ban was universal in nature, it did not target any specific person or party, and the High Court order was aimed at ensuring sanctity of the judiciary as desired by the constitution of the country.

In its written order, the full bench led by Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi had directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to stop all hate speeches and aspersions against the ‘institution of judiciary’ and ‘judges of the superior courts’ in the spirit of Article 19 and 68 of the Constitution.

The bench directed the Pemra to decide within 15 days all complaints of the petitioners against anti-judiciary speeches being broadcast on TVs. The bench also ordered the authority to strictly monitor the content of the TVs, so that no one should air the contemptuous speeches.

A mentioned earlier, apart from the race for breaking this news between the television channels, a key reason of the misreporting was lack of coordination between public relation officer of the LHC and the beat reporters.

Despite the all day live TV reporting about the ban, claiming it was imposed on anti-judiciary speeches of Nawaz, Maryam and other PML-N leaders, the PRO was nowhere to be seen to clarify that the ban was universal and reject the impression that the court had targeted PML-N l through it.

On repeated requests by the beat reporters regarding confirmation of the court order, the PRO neither rebutted the news nor issued any clarification. He also did not provide the written order of the court.

The Lahore High Court is without a proper Public Relation Officer for a long time and an assistant registrar has been appointed to serve with the public relations section. “The PRO section did not fulfil its duties,” said a reporter seeking anonymity. The PRO section did not issue any direction or statement to the TVs about misreporting of the judgment and soon after that, the CJP took suo motu notice of it, he further said.

“A TV channel ran the ‘news’ of banning Nawaz Sharif and his daughter’s speeches and the others just followed it,” said another reporter, expressing his embarrassment over the issue.

Interestingly, two channels – Saama TV and 92 TV – ran the news of ban without tagging it with PML-N leaders, while majority of the other specified it to the speeches by Nawaz, Maryam and other ruling party leaders.

Rather than following the others, Saama just reported that LHC had imposed a “ban on anti-judiciary speeches” and did not mention any political figure.

92 TV reporter also played nicely by reporting that the bench had passed its order on a number of petitions challenging anti-judiciary speeches by former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and other leaders of the PML-N. He did not say that the ban was specific to these politicians.