LAHORE - The Lahore High Court on Thursday ordered the media regulator Pemra to ensure stoppage of contemptuous speeches against courts and judges by former premier Nawaz Sharif and leaders of the ruling PML-N. In five-page judgment, Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh ordered Pemra to ensure compliance of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Rules, 2009 and the Electronic Media Code of Conduct, 2015.

The judge passed the order on a petition moved by Amna Malik and sought reports and parawise comments from Pemra by Sept 12.

Civil Society Network Pakistan member Amna, in her petition, made 26 respondents including former premier Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and federal and state ministers Ishaq Dar, Khwaja Saad Rafiq, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Maryam Orangzaib, Tallal Chaudhary, Mohsin Ranja, Abid Sher Ali, Maiza Hameed and Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.

The respondents also included Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, provincial law minister Rana Sana Ullah, former information minister Pervaiz Rasheed, Senator Syed Asif Saeed Karmani, NAB Chairman Qammar Zaman Chaudhry, Election Commission of Pakistan, speakers of the National and Punjab Assembly and Pemra.

Azhar Siddique advocate, who represented the petitioner in the court, also said that Election Commission of Pakistan failed to exercise its jurisdiction which was ‘bad in law’, especially in view of the constitutional provisions and relevant laws of Senate, National Assembly and provincial assemblies.

He asserted that it was a legal obligation of ECP to enforce Articles 62 & 63 of the Constitution and to protect the institutions.

He prayed the court to order ECP to take up case of disqualification of above parliamentarians if the court believed that it was the ECP that should adjudicate the matter instead of the court.

Earlier, the counsel argued before the court that Pemra had failed to perform its functions/duties in respect of the speeches made at various media platforms the by respondents. He said a number of requests were made to Pemra but no action was taken.

The petitioner, however, did not make any news organisation party in her case, keeping in view the independence of media and freedom of speech under Article 19-A of the Constitution.

The Pemra was ordered by the court to stop any contemptuous speech on electronic moods of communication that fall under its jurisdiction, thereby making television channels and radios indirectly bound to comply with the order.

Talking to The Nation Azhar Siddique advocate said, “I [and my client] believe in independence of media, therefore, we just made party those who did speeches against judges and those who are regulators.”

“I didn’t make any media outlet party in the case because I believe in freedom of speech while our Constitution also guarantees freedom of speech,” he added.