MQM to challenge court order
Amir Riaz
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
From Print Edition
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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday ordered the chairmen of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) to ensure a complete ban on the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain’s speeches and pictures in both the electronic and print media.

A full bench headed by Justice Syed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi passed this order on three identical petitions seeking a ban on media coverage of Altaf Hussain’s speeches in the wake of his statements against the state institutions, including the army, Rangers and others.

They also sought proceedings under Article 6 of the Constitution against the MQM chief and disqualification of his party’s parliamentarians. The petitioners said Altaf was a British national and no foreign citizen could become the head of a political party in Pakistan as per the Political Parties Act.

They said Altaf had no right to deliver speeches on TV channels in Pakistan. Advocates Aftab Virk, Abdullah Malik and others had filed the petitions.

During the course of Monday’s hearing, legal adviser of Pemra presented a notification issued on May 1, 2015 under Section 27 of the authority’s ordinance to all the TV channels to stop airing hate speeches.

However, the petitioners’ counsel contended that video record presented before the court contained sufficient material to establish that the speeches made by Altaf Hussain were a danger to the integrity and sovereignty of the country. He said the MQM chief, by making speeches against the armed forces and other law-enforcing agencies, tried to ridicule the whole nation in the eyes of the international community.

The counsel further argued that the directive of the Pemra was of a generalised nature, which did not contain any specification regarding Altaf and it did not serve the purpose. The bench observed that there was sufficient material on record to order a complete blackout of the respondent’s activities in the media.

The bench adjourned further hearing till September 18 and an additional attorney general undertook that requisite report and comments would be submitted in the spirit of the previous order of the court. On the last hearing, the bench had also sought a report on the status of Altaf’s nationality.

Shamim Bano adds from Karachi: Meanwhile, the MQM announced that the party would challenge the order of the Lahore High Court (LHC) banning the broadcast of images and speeches of MQM chief Altaf Hussain in all electronic and print media and would also file a review petition in the LHC.

This was announced by MQM’s lawyer Barrister Farogh Nasim at a hurriedly-called press conference at the Karachi Press Club here. He shared the technical and legal points with the media.

Flanked by Dr Farooq Sattar, another lawyer Mehfooz Yar Khan and Aminul Haq, In-charge Information Department, he elaborated that basically it was the Karachi lawlessness case that was being heard in the Supreme Court in which political opponents sought a ban on the MQM as a political party and the apex court declared that the SC could not impose a ban on the political party under Article 17(4) and it was the discretionary powers of the government.

First of all, this order of the SC under Article 189 is binding on all but defying the court orders, three petitions were filed in the LHC according to which a ban on the speech of Altaf Hussain was sought. Secondly, it also asked for disqualifying five of the MQM’s Coordination Committee members which included Dr Farooq Sattar and others.

The third petition was regarding banning the MQM as a political party. On Monday, the LHC directed the Pakistan Electronic Media and Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to implement the ban on the broadcast of images and speeches of MQM chief Altaf Hussain across all the electronic and print media till the final verdict of the case regarding the treason allegations against the party chief. The hearing was put off till September 18.

Asked whether the MQM would challenge the interim order in the SC before its set date, he said that they would right away file a petition in the SC and a review petition in the LHC.

To another question if the party could contest the interim order, he replied that it was a general impression that a short-term order could not be challenged but with the exception of nature of order and its implications at extreme, it could be challenged.