ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday suspended a notification about the appointment of Pervez Rathore as acting chief of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).
The court also suspended both Rathore’s and Kamaluddin Tipu’s appointment notifications as executive members of Pemra.
A single-member bench of IHC comprising Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi was hearing the contempt of court petition filed by Pemra’s private member, Israr Abbasi.
The petitioner claimed that Rathore’s appointment violated Pemra’s Ordinance, which authorises the president to make such decisions. Interestingly, Rathore was appointed as Pemra chief by the prime minister.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the petitioner’s counsel argued that Rathore was functioning as acting Pemra chief in violation of IHC’s June 9 orders. He said that government issued an amended notification of both officials which violated the court’s orders.
The petitioner had challenged the appointment of Rathore, who took charge as the acting Pemra chief on June 5, 2014. Subsequently, on June 9, Justice Qureshi ruled that the “status quo shall be maintained” until June 17.
During the hearing, the media watchdog produced the amended summaries before the court, conceding it as a clerical mistake and stating that the summaries were duly approved by the country’s president.
During the hearing, Ahmed Hassan Rana, contended that the suspension would bring the regulatory authority to a virtual standstill. “There are many cases that this organisation has to adjudicate,” he argued.
Justice Qureshi asked Rana whether there was any provision in Pemra’s Ordinance which mentions the role of an acting chairman. Following a heated exchange between the petitioner’s lawyer and Justice Qureshi, the latter issued a show cause notice to Rana, who according to Justice Qureshi, tried to influence the court.
However, later the court withdrew the show cause notices at the request of senior counsel Barrister Mehmood A Sheikh as Rana tendered an apology before the court.
Wrapping up the proceedings, the court adjourned all Pemra-related cases till July 18, including the petition for reinstatement of former chairman Ch Rashid Ahmad and Rs10 million penalty on Geo. On the other hand, Amin Yousuf, secretary general of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), said that the body welcomes IHC’s decision. PFUJ had sought the removal of Rathore as acting Pemra chief, he said while commenting on the decision.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2014.
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