IHC disposes petition against ban on Imran Khan’s live speeches

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday disposed of a petition of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan against a ban imposed by PEMRA on live telecast of his speeches by TV channels. IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who heard the writ filed by the former prime minister through Barrister Ali Zafar, observed that giving irresponsible statements must have consequences.
During the course of proceedings, the counsel for Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) adopted the stance that the purpose of issuing the show-cause notice to a TV channel was only to hold a break during the speech. The court asked that why PEMRA did not implement the delay policy during the live coverage of events. Had PEMRA worked according to the law as responsible persons were giving irresponsible statements, then the court would not interfere, the chief justice observed.
Barrister Ali Zafar said PEMRA’s instructions were not about a particular person. The court asked the counsel whether he agreed with its last order. As the counsel answered in yes, the court disposed of the plea.
Addressing Imran Khan’s counsel, the court said the things should not be made difficult as his client had also given an irresponsible statement. PEMRA’s lawyer said there was a decision of the Supreme Court on the delayed broadcast of contents by the TV channels. Barrister Ali Zafar said PEMRA had to follow the instructions of Supreme Court. The chief justice asked whether the statement given in a public gathering by Imran Khan was constitutional. How could one raise question on the patriotism of head of a sensitive institution in the public meetings? Why the constitutional institutions were being defamed, he questioned.
Chief Justice Minallah said the statements given by Imran Khan were creating problems for himself. Which message he was conveying the world through his irresponsible statements. What was stated in public did not even fall under the ambit of Article 19, he added. The court further remarked that everyone was under the constitution and should take care of it. “If they make irresponsible statements, there would be consequences of those.”
The chief justice remarked that the statement of a political leader had effects on his followers. He asked Imran Khan’s lawyer to let PEMRA implement the Supreme Court’s order. The lawyer said that PEMRA could not ban live speech of just one person. At this, the court said if they made irresponsible statements, how they could not be banned. The court asked why PEMRA did not implemented the time delay policy. The lawyer responded that the Authority had put in place a mechanism to strictly implement the time delay policy and had also issued notices. He said the authority would implement the policy and requested the court to dispose of the petition.
The court observed whether the petitioner expected the court to give him a license for issuing irresponsible statements. CJ Minallah remarked that country was put on stake for a ‘Game of Thrones’. Do not expect any kind of relief from the court on what was happening in the country, he added. He remarked the armed forces’ personnel were getting martyred and they were demoralizing them. The court, subsequently, disposed of Imran Khan’s petition.