Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP), the apex court of the country, admonished the top official of the electronic media regulatory authority for failing to take appropriate action against cable operators who closed down the telecast of two private television channels. A two-member bench of SCP comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary and Justice Khalil-ur-Rahman Ramday also ordered Mushtaq Chaudhary, the Chairamn of Pakistan Electronomic Media Authority (PEMRA), to restore the telecast of private local televisions including popular Geo News channel, by 12:30 p.m. Friday or be sent to jail. Chief Justice Chaudhary, expressing anger at the closing down of the television telecast terming the forced closure an act of “terrorism” admonished Chairman PEMRA, “you are neglecting your duty and violating the Constitution”. Justice Ramday commented if the hooligans who attacked the cable operators with petrol bombs “were powerful than the government”. The court issued and order and made the comments while hearing two similar petitions against the closure of local television news channels, namely GEO News and ARY News. The petitioners’ counsel Akram Shaikh pleaded in his initial arguments that the telecast of two news channels were closed after they reported the shoe-throwing incident at President Zardari while addressing public meeting organized by Pakistan Peoples’ Party of which he is the co-Chairman. The incident was reported by local as well as foreign media. Chief Justice Chaudhary also admonished Chairman PEMRA and asked him why it had not cancelled the licenses of cable operators who cut off the telecast. “PEMRA should protect the rights of the people and the millions of viewers whose rights were violated are important to the court”.
Chairman PEMRA the federal secretaries of Information and Interior also appeared before the court. The Attorney General blamed the miscreants for the closure of the telecast of the said channels and that the incident had nothing to do with the government while Secretary Information admitted that closure of telecast tarnished the name of the country internationally.
The court directed Chairman Pemra chief to personally ensure that telecast of Geo News and ARY News channels are restored and that appropriate action should be taken against the cable operators responsible for the stoppage of their telecast.
The court also issued notices to the cable operators to appear on the next hearing on the next date of hearing on August 17.