Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) urges the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to revoke its order banning the broadcast of any content pertaining to the conduct of sitting judges of the high courts and superior court. In light of the implications of such a ban on the public’s access to information, we urge the regulatory body to ensure that the free flow of information regarding those in positions of power including the judiciary is not restricted.
In a prohibition order dated March 9, PEMRA stated that despite repeated directives, TV channels were “persistently discussing conduct of honorable judges of superior courts and orchestrating vilification campaign through airing slanderous allegations.”
They noted that this was in violation of PEMRA rules. Additionally, the order noted that the conduct of judges cannot be discussed in the parliament.
PEMRA prohibited the broadcast or rebroadcast of “any content pertaining to conduct of the Honorable sitting judges of the High Court and Superior Court, in any manner, on electronic media (news bulletins, talk shows, etc) with immediate effect”.
Recently, three audio clips pertaining to a sitting judge of the Supreme Court came into the limelight. According to Dawn, former Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi “was purportedly heard talking to the top court judge before whose bench he wanted a corruption case to be fixed”.
In light of such audio leaks, a ban on the conduct of sitting judges will restrict the public’s access to information regarding developments on this. The media must be able to perform its duties through coverage of key developments in the country and to hold those in power accountable.