ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday turned down a petition seeking ban on Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and its chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman over an anti-army statement.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of a petition filed by petitioner Shahjahan Khan and rejected the same after hearing the arguments.

The court noted in its order, “In this case the petitioner has not placed on record any document nor has referred to any specific statement or press conference attributed to respondent No1 in support of the assertions made in the memorandum of petition. The court does not expect from a political leader to make any irresponsible statement which may tantamount to scandalizing an institution or to bring it into dispute.”

“Moreover, PEMRA is vested with powers and jurisdiction to take appropriate action in accordance with law against violation of reasonable restrictions imposed by law and highlighted in Article 19 of the Constitution,” said the court order.

It added, “This petition in its present form is definitely frivolous and is thus accordingly dismissed in limine.”

During the hearing, the IHC Chief Justice asked that why the high court should prevent any person from exercising his right to freedom of speech. He added that even the judiciary is being criticized.

He remarked that our own record should be good enough for people so that they could not raise a finger on them. He added that in the age of globalization and social media, they could not bar every person from speaking. Justice Athar also emphasized that the country should allow citizens to speak freely.

Petitioner Khan sought a ban on the broadcast of Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s speeches and asked that why the federal government had failed to take action against JUI-F leader for speaking against the military.

He maintained in the petition that the Fazl was liable to be charged with high treason due to his statements against the country’s armed forces. In his petition, Shahjahan cited the JUI-F chief, the federal government, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) chairman as respondents