IHC takes up petitions seeking ban on broadcast of Nawaz’ speeches

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Zubair Qureshi

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) is taking up a number of petitions today (Monday) seeking ban on broadcast of former prime minister Nawaz speeches on media.
Chief Justice of the IHC Athar Minallah will be taking up these petitions for hearing. Interestingly, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) electronic media watchdog has already slapped ban on Nawaz Sharif’s speeches on the pretext that under PEMRA’s laws absconder’s speeches cannot be aired.
A citizen has moved a petition in the IHC seeking directives for the government to ban the broadcast of speeches by Nawaz Sharif.
Aamir Aziz filed the petition citing the government, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif as respondents. He stated that Nawaz levelled false allegations against state institutions to defame them. The petitioner submitted, “The speeches made by Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif cannot in any way be termed as fair criticism or within the parameters of the fundamental right of freedom of speech. The fundamental right of speech guaranteed by the Constitution is not an absolute right but is subject to reasonable restrictions.”
He pleaded with the high court to “issue writ of prohibition against the Respondent No.03 [Nawaz Sharif] and others restraining them from maligning, scandalizing, ridiculing, defaming, and disrespecting the state institutions including the judiciary, members of the Judiciary and the judicial system.”
The petitioner further demanded that the government should ban the broadcast of any such speech or statement by Nawaz. It is pertinent to mention that PEMRA on Thursday last barred TV channels from airing speeches of the absconding accused and proclaimed offenders. The regulatory body barred broadcast of the speeches and interviews of proclaimed offenders and absconders on national television. It also barred the broadcast of any sort of debate on the possible outcome of the undergoing trials.
Earlier on Friday last, a petition was filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking action against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for allegedly delivering speeches against state institutions.
Advocate Shah Jahan Khan moved the writ petition, citing the PML-N supremo, the federal government, and interior and foreign secretaries as respondents. He stated in his petition that Nawaz Sharif peddled negative propaganda against state institutions through his speeches, undermining their sanctity. He pleaded with the high court to order legal action against him over his speeches.