IHC issues notices in journalists’ legislation case

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday issued notices to respondents in a case regarding legislation for the protection of journalists’ rights.

Chief Justice Aamer Farooq heard the cases filed by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), and Islamabad High Court Journalists Association (IHCJA).

At the outset of the hearing, the chief justice asked whether there was any progress regarding legislation for the protection of journalists’ rights as the Implementation Tribunal for Newspaper Employees (ITNE) chairman had been making efforts in that regard.

Umar Ijaz Gilani Advocate informed the court that the draft bill had been sent to the Information Ministry.

On this, the chief justice remarked that the ITNE was working for the rights of newspapers’ employees and even its chairman had also prepared a draft bill in that regard.

He observed that he could not understand the laws related to newspapers. The lawyer said the ITNE comprised only a chairman and now the concept of members and benches was also being introduced.

CJ Aamer Farooq said the government should realize the things and even it was better if the Parliament passed the legislation in that regard.

To a court’s query, anchorperson Hamid Mir said he was in favour of the legislation for the journalists of electronic media. Former IHC chief justice Athar Minallah had given him an assignment regarding the “cross-media”, and he had submitted written suggestions in that regard.

The chief justice remarked that there was also an issue of non-payment of journalists’ salaries. The journalists had to make multiple visits to tribunals for even small amounts (owed by their employers), he noted.

Hamid Mir said many journalists even did not have written job proofs. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) had been authorized in the law to protect the rights of journalists, he added.

The chief justice said whether there could be any resistance on the matter. Hamid Mir replied that it was possible that the association of media owners might create hurdles in it.

The court asked whether the incumbent government wanted to introduce such legislation. No government should have any objection as it was not a political matter, he added.

The court then issued notices to respondents and adjourned of the case till February 6.

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