IHC rules out relief for any proclaimed offender

Petitioners’ counsel says PEMRA doesn’t have powers to ban speeches, Article 19-A guarantees freedom of expression

By: News Desk      Published: 02:11 PM, 19 Nov, 2020
IHC rules out relief for any proclaimed offender

Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Thursday remarked that no relief was possible for any proclaimed offender and they should first surrender before the court for enjoying their legal rights.

Every absconder will get the right to be on the air if one of them was allowed to have a TV interview, he observed as the court heard a petition filed on the subject, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

The government allowed the absconder to go abroad but the allegation was levelled against the court, the chief justice added.

Later, the court directed renowned lawyer Salman Akram Raja – the counsel for the petitioners seeking orders for allowing speeches and interviews on media – to give his arguments about maintainability of the plea on next hearing.

During the hearing, the court asked for whom they wanted the relief and observed that someone would certainly benefit from the orders.

It noted that they had already passed a judgment in the Gen Pervez Musharraf case which clearly stated that no proclaimed offender was eligible for any relief.

The court observed that the matter in question was very serious and judiciary had to face many things due to political instability in recent years.

When asked who was banned by PEMRA, the counsel said the regulator’s order wasn’t against any particular person. 

At this, the court that the petitioner wasn’t the aggrieved party and two persons had been affected the PEMRA order. But Salman Raja was of the view that thousands, not two, people were affected.

The affected party can file an appeal against the PEMRA’s move, the court said and added that whose interview the petitioners wanted to get aired. 

It meant that whether all the absconders should be allowed the same right, the court questioned and remarked that the citizenship of an absconder could be cancelled – an observation with which the counsel did not agree.

However, the counsel said that the PEMRA order had been about journalists and media persons and, therefore, they were the aggrieved party, adding that he would consult his clients before informing the court about that.

 The PEMRA did not have any authority to pass such orders and the related powers were vested with the Parliament, he argued. 

Salma Raja said their right to information was hampered in the instant matter and the Article 19-A guaranteed freedom of expression to everyone.

However, the court adjourned the hearing till December 16 and directed the petitioner’s counsel to present his argument on maintainability.