The Supreme Court has issued notices to all parties regarding media coverage ban on speeches of Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain and adjourned the hearing till Tuesday.
The notices were issued to secretaries Prime Minister, Ministry of Interior, Law Ministry, Cabinet Division, Chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly to resolve a legal matter.
Lahore High Court on September 7 directed Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and the federation to implement complete ban on the broadcast of images and speeches of MQM chief across all electronic and print media.
The MQM had challenged that order in the apex court and asked the court to declare the LHC decision null and void contending that the verdict handed out was unjust as it was passed without hearing the counsels of the other party.
The court observed that according to Rule 2 Order 15 of Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) a court order ceases to exist after 15 days, but needed interpretation. Asma Jahangir, representing MQM chief, agreed with the proposal. The bench said as order (September 7) ceases to remain in field there was no need for the apex court to pass any order.
The court also dismissed Khalid Ranjha’s application to shift Altaf Hussain case from Lahore High Court to Sindh High Court. Ranjha, who is also attorney of MQM, said his office signboard was burnt and there is danger to their lives.
Justice Ejaz Afzal, heading a two-judge bench, said this was not the valid ground to transfer cases from one high court to another. He said: “If we permit this kind of ground then it is not valid.” “Let the law enforcement agencies provide safety and protection to lawyers, appearing in the case.”
Asma Jahangir told the apex court that the LHC on September 18 had directed MQM chief Altaf Hussain to submit an apology over his previous hate speeches. The MQM leaders on October 2 filed an affidavit on his behalf.
In a three-page affidavit, Altaf said that his words were misconstrued. He said that he explained his statement in three TV programmes later and if law officers had presented the subsequent interviews, the court might have withheld its order regarding ban on his speeches. “However, I regret if anyone’s sentiments are hurt,” he said adding that MQM was not unpatriotic.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2015.