LAHORE – The Lahore High Court ordered a temporary ban on the airing of contemptuous speeches by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other party leaders.
The decision was announced on Monday on over two dozen petitions filed against ‘anti-judiciary’ speeches by Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other senior leaders of the party.
The provincial high court ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to decide on the petitions within 15 days, directing the authority to refrain from airing any contemptuous remarks till that span is over. Moreover, the electronic media regulator was also instructed to remove anti-judiciary content.
During court proceedings, Petitioner’s counsel Advocate Azhar Siddiqui informed the court that PEMRA did not take any action over petitions filed regarding anti-judiciary speeches.
The full bench headed by Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi and comprising Justice Masood Jahangir and Justice Atir Mahmoud Justice Naqvi remarked that while Article 19 of the Constitution allowed fair criticism of judiciary, not every person should be allowed to criticise it just for the sake of exercising their right to criticise.
Justice Naqvi added that it made sense for a lawyer or an expert to express his viewpoint on judicial verdicts but not every other person.
He drew the attention towards Article 68 and observed that it even prevented the Parliament from criticizing the judiciary and its decisions.
On the other hand, PEMRA counsel Salman Akram Raja argued that the authority had used its powers to decide on the anti-judiciary remarks issue.
The bench inquired if the verdict should be taken as a green signal for anti-judiciary speeches in future to which Raja replied that the authority may have committed a minor mistake by dismissing the petition.
Upon this, the bench responded that this was not a minor mistake.
Meanwhile, Nawaz’s counsel AK Dogar raised objections to the inclusion of Justice Naqvi in the bench arguing that the judge authored the order against Nawaz Sharif.
The petitioner added that the remarks caused stress to his client after which he expects no fair treatment at the hands of Justice Naqvi.