- Justice Shams Mehmood Mirza announces verdict
The Lahore High Court (LHC) suspended on Thursday the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) decision to ban all satellite TV channels from broadcasting former prime minister Imran Khan’s speeches and press talks.
Justice Shams Mehmood Mirza announced the reserved verdict. The judge has sent the matter to the full bench for hearing and adjourned the proceedings till March 13.
On Sunday, the media regulatory body barred TV channels from broadcasting the speeches, press conferences, and statements of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman under Section 27 of the PEMRA Ordinance.
PEMRA said that the PTI chairman has been making false accusations against state institutions in his speeches, “which is prejudiced to the maintenance of law and order and is likely to disturb public peace and tranquility.”
In his plea filed through counsel Barrister Ahmed Pansuta, Imran said the ban on speech is a violation of the fundamental rights in the Constitution.
“The Constitution of Pakistan allows citizens to freedom of expression,” the petition said.
“The ban on freedom of expression will lead to chaos and political agitation in the country, and in the current political situation, the country cannot afford chaos by this kind of restriction,” the petition added.
This is not the first time that PEMRA has imposed a ban on Imran’s speeches. In August last year, the media regulator imposed a blanket ban on live coverage of Imran’s speeches after he allegedly threatened Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zeba Chaudhry, and the Islamabad Police IG and DIG, of “consequences” after the judge handed over physical custody of the ex-PM’s aide, Shahbaz Gill, to police for two days.
Subsequently, Imran approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) which then set aside the ban on September 6, 2022.
Two months later, on November 5, PEMRA again banned Imran’s press conferences – this time for levelling accusations against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a senior intelligence official for his attempted assassination.