ISLAMABAD – The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has dismissed a petition in favour of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) in the case titled ‘ARY News vs PEMRA’ and has endorsed the decision of the regulator.

ARY News in January 2016 in its programme “Sawaal Yeh Hai” hosted by Dr Danish had provoked the then Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif to take over the government and carry out accountability of the politicians.

PEMRA received a complaint on January 25, 2016, by a citizen Shanila Sikandar against the said programme. Following the necessary procedure and after hearing both the parties PEMRA imposed a fine of Rs100,000 on the channel for clearly violating Electronic Media Code of Conduct 2015.

ARY News later challenged the decision in the IHC. However, the IHC single bench comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb upheld PEMRA decision and endorsed the recommendations of the Council of Complaint agreeing that the host of the programme had provoked the then Army Chief not only to take extension but also hold the politicians accountable.

The court observed the host further went on to pose a question to Gen Raheel Sharif if he would take retirement on November 29, 2016, and leave the country at the mercy of looters and plunderers. In the 8-page judgment, the court mentions that it’s another matter that the Army Chief was unmoved by the anchor’s enunciation. The said programme was in violation of various clauses of the PEMRA Electronic Media Code of Conduct 2015.

The Judge observed that he did not find the content in the said programme to be a simple discussion on the improvement of democracy or constituting fair comment. The Court further observed that it was expected that the TV anchors exercised caution and discretion in their denunciations and it is their duty to act strictly within the parameters of the Code of Conduct, 2015. The judge also makes it clear that he doesn’t find any illegality or a procedural irregularity in Council of Complaints taking cognizance of the complaint which was referred to the COC by the Chairman PEMRA for recommendations. PEMRA was represented by Advocate Rehan Seerat.-Online