The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday suspended a notification of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) regarding the ban on the coverage of the Motorway gang-rape incident in electronic media.
LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan passed the order while hearing a petition filed by a private television channel challenging the ban on the coverage of motorway gang-rape incident in electronic media. The petitioner counsel argued before the court that PEMRA, on October 2, enforced the ban in compliance with an order passed by an anti-terrorism court on an application by the investigating team of the incident.
Advocate Abuzar Salman Khan Niazi appeared on behalf of the petitioner pleading that the ban was in clear violation of the Article 19 of the Constitution, which guaranteed freedom of speech and press. The Chief Justice observed that the right to information of the people could not be usurped. He also questioned the media coverage of the ministers’ press conferences on the gang-rape incident and summoned the record from the PEMRA.
The petitioner submitted that the only restrictions that can be imposed on freedom of speech must be through any law and that law must itself be reasonable. He said no law permitted the passing of the impugned orders in derogation of the rights of the petitioner and the public at large guaranteed under the Constitution.
Moreover, he stated that the trial court directed PEMRA to impose a complete ban on the coverage of the incident, not only on electronic media but also in print media. He pointed out that impugned orders were patently illegal, as PEMRA had no jurisdiction to interfere in the functioning of the print media