LAHORE/ ISLAMABAD -  The Lahore High Court has summoned Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) representative over alleged anti-judiciary speeches made by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.

Justice Shahid Karim on Monday took up a plea moved by Amna Malik, a member of the civil society, seeking action against the duo for their bashing the judiciary and the judges in their public speeches.

The judge directed a law officer to ensure presence of a responsible officer from Pemra on the next hearing on Friday (Feb 23).

Appearing on behalf of the petitioner, Azhar Siddique advocate contended that Nawaz has been delivering anti-judiciary speeches since his disqualification by the Supreme Court in Panama papers’ case. His daughter Maryam was also following in his footsteps, the lawyer added.

Azhar said both the PML-N leaders had been running this vilification campaign against the judiciary with impunity. In this regard, he referred to their speeches at the ongoing public gatherings of the ruling party.

The lawyer stated that these speeches were live telecast and Pemra did not stop any TV channel from airing their anti-judiciary remarks. Thus, he said, Pemra violated the law and was equally responsible for the ongoing vilification campaign.

The apex judiciary had jurisdiction over all issues of a judicial nature and exclusive authority to decide whether an issue was political or apolitical. He said Pemra failed to implement its code of conduct against airing of hate speech and stuff containing defamation and contempt.

He prayed the court to order Pemra to ban broadcasting of hate speech by the respondents as it could lead to anarchy in the country.

Going a step further, the lawyer said the act of the respondents was not only a contempt of court in view of Article 204 of the Constitution but also sedition.

The petitioner’s counsel also asked the court to suspend licences of television channels over airing hate speeches and derogatory remarks against the state institutions.

The Supreme Court on Monday gave one week time to State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry and four days to Federal Minister for Privatisation Daniyal Aziz to submit their replies in contempt cases.

The two ministers have been issued contempt of court notices by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar for bashing the judiciary and the judges.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, heard the contempt notice against State Minister Talal Chaudhry in Islamabad.

The court gave one more week to Talal for engaging a counsel as his former lawyer Asma Jahangir had died over a week ago.

The minister has now engaged Kamran Murtaza advocate, who requested the court to extend the deadline by 10 days for submitting the reply. However, the court granted him another seven days.

Justice Maqbool Baqir told the counsel to be reasonable in his request for extension in the deadline.

Separately, another three-judge bench, headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, issued a show cause notice to Daniyal Aziz for his statement published on June 9, 2017 in Duniya newspaper and aired on December 15 and 31 on Neo and Dawn TVs.

The court directed his counsel to file a reply by Friday. Prima facie the minister has made contempt of court, which has therefore nominated Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf prosecutor in the case, the court observed.

Earlier on February 2, the apex court had issued Daniyal a contempt of court notice over his controversial speeches and statements made during various TV talk shows. But, the minister told the court that he has spent his whole life respecting the judiciary. “My hands and heart are clean,” he claimed.

 

 

Fida Hussnain and TERENCE J SIGAMONY