SC annoyed over lack of details on media’s code

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  • PEMRA says 17,500 complaints received, action taken on 17,208
  • SC says Judiciary, Army cannot be criticised despite Constitution promising freedom of expression

 

Taking up the media commission case for hearing on Thursday, a two-member Supreme Court (SC) bench, presided over by Justice Jawwad S Khwaja, sought replies from the president and other office bearers of Pakistan Broadcasting Association (PBA) besides summoning Prime Minister’s Special Advisor Irfan Siddiqui to brief the court on the working and findings of the committee constituted by prime minister on the issue.

During yesterday’s hearing, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) chairman and other parties appeared before the court as the Information Ministry filed its report in the case.

While presenting ministry’s report, the deputy attorney general (DAG) told the court that Senate approved the journalists’ code of conduct and it was with the committee. “It is a must that PBA be heard,” he appealed.

The information secretary told the court that PBA attended the first meeting of the committee and rejected the code framed by the committee. He said that PEMRA had its own code of conduct which was not being followed in letter and spirit.

In the meanwhile, PEMRA told the court that 17,500 complaints were received and action was taken on 17,208 complaints.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said, “Millions of rupees are being spent on PEMRA but their details are not being told to the court. Freedom of expression is there under Article 19 of the Constitution but Judiciary and Armed Forces cannot be criticised.”

Further, Justice Khwaja ordered uploading all the details on PEMRA’s website. “People be informed about the details from July, 2012 to date. Talks are underway for framing code of conduct for the journalists. Media is too a pillar among four pillars of state.”

“Should we send invitations if someone does not come. Issuing warrants is a wrong thing,” he said, inquiring as to who represented PBA in the old order. Upon query, the information secretary told the court that Shakil Masud was chairman of PBA at that time.

Issuing notices to the people concerned, the court adjourned the hearing till June, 2.