LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday summoned the executive member of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) in a contempt of court petition filed against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and 14 other lawmakers.
A full bench headed by Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi and comprising Justice Masood Jahangir and Justice Atir Mahmoud resumed hearing of the contempt petition.
During the hearing, the petitioner’s counsel, Advocate Azhar Siddiqui, blamed PEMRA for failing to play its part in combating contempt of court on tv channels.
When Justice Naqvi inquired if the petitioner had contacted PEMRA regarding the contempt proceedings, the advocate replied that multiple requests were made against airing of contempt speeches and added that the regulatory authority asked the petitioner to bring a record of contempt statements.
“It is not our responsibility to provide details of programmes where contempt of court occurred.”
Siddiqui further inthe formed court that despite nine months since filing a complaint, PEMRA had not taken any action, highlighting that the authority had a procedure to ban contemptuous statements.
“Shall we send your case to the council of complaints then?” asked Justice Jahangir. The petitioner’s lawyer said that the case did not fall under the jurisdiction of the council of complaints.
Addressing PEMRA secretary, Justice Naqvi inquired why they were not stopping speeches bordering on contempt of court and the grounds on which a show-cause notice could be issued. “Why has the acting chairman not appeared before the court despite being summoned?”
Meanwhile, PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif ‘s counsel, AK Dogar, raised objections on the appointment of Justice Mahmoud on the bench hearing the case. Dogar pointed out a conflict of interest as the justice was a former office holder of rival political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
It is pertinent to note that the LHC bench was thrice constituted. On April 6, the Chief Justice of LHC Yawar Ali dissolved three-member bench after Justice Shahid Jamil recused himself from the case. Justice Yawar then appointed Justice Masood Jahangir as part of the new bench to hear the contempt case.
After a brief break in court proceedings, the court sought contempt records and summoned the executive member of PEMRA to personally appear before the bench.