LHC suspends ban on media broadcasts of Imran’s speeches

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Thursday suspended the ban imposed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on the live telecast of speeches and press talks by Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The verdict was announced by Justice Shams Mehmood Mirza, who also sent the matter to a full bench for further hearing and adjourned the proceedings until March 13.

PEMRA had issued the ban on Sunday, citing the former prime minister’s fiery criticism of former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa for allegedly protecting corrupt rulers.

A violation of the ban by any media outlet would result in its license being revoked, the regulator said. Hours later, the popular ARY News station was taken off air for airing Khan’s speech.

Khan challenged the order in court, arguing it was “purely driven out of vengeance.”

During the hearing, Justice Mirza questioned how a ban could be imposed on the head of a political party and commented that it went against freedom of speech. However, the counsel for the regulator argued the matter should be heard by a full bench and the government lawyer said the court did not have jurisdiction over the issue.

Khan’s counsel, Barrister Ahmad Pansota, contended that PEMRA’s ban violated the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and requested that the court set aside the authority’s order.

PEMRA had also banned the airing of Khan’s speeches on electronic media last August and November on similar grounds.

The restrictions, however, were quashed, once by the Islamabad High Court (IHC), and the second time by the government itself.


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