Media commission case: ‘Judiciary, army cannot be criticised despite freedom of expression’

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court observed on Thursday that million of rupees are beings spent on the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) but their details are not being furnished in the court.

A 2-member bench of the apex court presided over by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja took up the media commission case for hearing.

During the hearing, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja remarked that freedom of expression is there under Article 19 of the Constitution but the judiciary and armed forces cannot be criticised. He directed PEMRA to upload all the details on its website. He remarked that people should be informed about the details from July 2012 to-date.

The Information Ministry filed a report in the Supreme Court (SC) in the media commission case. The PEMRA chairman and other parties appeared before the court. PEMRA told the court that 17,500 complaints were received and action was taken on 17,208 complaints and action has yet to be taken on 248 complaints.

The deputy attorney general while presenting the report from the Information Ministry told the court that Senate approved the journalists’ code of conduct and now this is lying with a committee. He said the Pakistan Broadcasting Association (PBA) should be heard in the case. The information secretary told the court that PBA attended the first meeting and said it would not accept the code of conduct for journalists framed by the committee.

Justice Jawwad S Khawaja remarked, “Should we send invitations if someone does not come. Issuing warrants is a wrong thing. See the old order. Who represented PBA?” The information secretary told that Shakil Masud was PBA chairman at that time. Justice Jawwad remarked, “Did PBA express reservations over the code of conduct for journalists?” The information secretary said PEMRA has its own code of conduct but it is not following the same in letter and spirit. Justice Jawwad remarked, “Article 19 gives freedom of expression. Criticism on judiciary and army is banned but the relevant laws are not being implemented.”

The court issued notices to the president and other office bearers of Pakistan Broadcasting Association (PBA) and sought reply from them. Special Advisor to Prime Minister Irfan Siddiqui has also been summoned to tell the court about the details of the committee constituted by the prime minister. The hearing of the case was adjourned till June 2.

Daily Times