A Supreme Court bench on Thursday approved the formation of a two-member commission for upholding the principles of media regulation.
The bench, headed by Justice Jawad S Khawaja, announced that the commission would comprise a former judge of the Supreme Court Justice (Retd) Nasir Aslam Zahid and ex-information minister Javed Jabbar.
The commission has been formulated on the request of petitioners Hamid Mir, Absar Alam and Asad Kharal for maintaining principles of media and content regulations and upholding the authority’s constitution. The committee is supposed to keep checks on any fiscal misappropriation by the ministry of information and other federal government departments, and take account of the government’s advertisements through Midas Pvt Ltd.
The bench was presented with a draft prepared by Islamabad High Court Bar Association president Syed Nayyab Hassan Gardezi, in consultation with the petitioners and other respondents, including representatives of the Federation of Pakistan, through the information and broadcasting ministry, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (Pemra), Midas Pvt Ltd and other stakeholders on the court’s orders.
On Wednesday, the court had asked Gardezi to convene a meeting of stakeholders and submit a Terms of Reference regarding the formation of a commission in light of the earlier court orders issued on December 21, 2012.
The draft submitted before the apex court by Gardezi stated that these terms of reference have been settled with the consent of all parties.
The point of view of Hamid Mir, Absar Alam, Asad Kharal, Dr Tariq Hassan, Nasir Jamal, Husnain Ibrahim Kazmi, Nasir Ayaz, Adnan Iqbal Chaudhry, Yasin Azad and Raja Masqat Nawaz were incorporated into the draft.
One of the petitioners Asad Kharal, in his point of view, said that it should be decided whether the federal and provincial governments can give the task of their advertisement to their preferred advertising agencies on merit, adhering to the formalities of the code, and if the said issue is decided, what should be considered for granting advertising campaigns to such agencies at a large scale.
During the hearing, the bench rejected the objections of the additional advocate general, counsel for information ministry and Pemra, regarding the formation of the commission.
The court adjourned the hearing of the case and said that a verdict will be formally issued on January 15.
Justice Khilji Arif said a transparent media policy is essential for transparent elections. He expressed hope that the commission will present its recommendations and that they will be implemented before the elections to ensure delivery of unpolluted information to the masses.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2013.