LHC seeks reply from PEMRA on taking TV channels off-air

December 7, 2017

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday served a notice to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to file its response in a case pertaining to taking private news TV channels off-air during an operation against participants of Faizabad sit-in in federal capital Islamabad.

At the outset of court proceedings, petitioner’s lawyer Azhar Siddique argued that the move of shutting the private TV news channels during crackdown against Faizabad protesters was illegal and sheer violation of Article 19A of the constitution, which ensures access of information to the citizens.

He said PEMRA had no legal justification to take the private news channel off air during the crackdown against protester belonged to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA) as the channels were operating under the PEMRA’s code of conduct.

Siddique maintained that there were obvious laws for taking a private channel off-air and the regulatory must inform about the law under which it prohibited the coverage.

Justice Ayesha A. Malik of the LHC heard the arguments and issued a notice to PEMRA to file a reply in the case. The petition states the PEMRA took channels off-air without any plausible reason, which caused a feeling of uncertainty among the people, who had to go through mental agony in absence of any access to accurate information.

It asserted that it was a fundamental right of every citizen to have access to information, adding that such constitutional right was violated by ordering closure of TV channels. The petitioner, therefore, requested the court to order action against the regulatory body and restrain it from doing so in future.

It merits mentioning here that the government had ordered closure of TV channels and blocking of social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter, after a botched operation against the protesters in Islamabad last month that triggered unrest across the country, paralyzing major cities. NNI