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Ban on programs against CJP: SC asked to suspend order.

ISLAMABAD -- The Supreme Court was Tuesday asked to immediately suspend an order of the Islamabad High Court where under PEMRA was instructed to impose a ban on the live telecast of any offensive press conference or program about the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

A civil petition filed in apex Court said the High Court had "literally abolished the Fundamental Right of the Freedom of Speech and Expression".

The Supreme Court was informed that the Order "has terribly frightened, rather terrorized, the working journalists all over Pakistan who have consequently adopted a tight lip policy/approach about any word of truth that relates to a Judge."

Petitioner Shahid Orakzai asserted that the specific Fundamental Right could be suspended only through the procedure laid down in Article 233 and after the President of Pakistan issues a Proclamation of Emergency.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of IHC on October 9 directed PEMRA "to ensure that that no program containing uncommendable, malicious and wicked material is telecast by any of the channels" in which the person of the Chief Justice of Pakistan is "criticized, ridiculed and defamed". The Petitioner, through Muhammad Akram Sheikh, Sr. ASC, had cautioned the High Court about "a new attack" against Chief Justice of Pakistan through "another live press conference" which would be "so nasty that it will leave the Chief Justice of Pakistan no choice except to resign and go home."

Seeking the apex court's leave to appeal, Orakzai, a freelance journalist, asserted that a fundamental right could not be suspended for the sake of reputation of an individual, be he the President of Pakistan. "For the time being, and until any other Judge is identified, the Chief Justice of Pakistan is apparently the first beneficiary of the impugned Order", noted the petition. It may be added that on October 16, Lahore High Court Judge Nasir Saeed Sheikh imposed a similar restriction on the electronic news channels. The two judicial Orders are generally seen in the context of the outbursts of a PPP senator on various channels.

Orakzai said the rumours about the "nasty attack" and the High Court's acceptance of Akram Sheikh's plea was "creating misgivings about the person of the Chief Justice" because it made no mention of discharge of duties by him.

Justice Siddiqui's Order stated the "Court is conscious of the fact that none is above the law and if allegations of misconduct against any Judge of the Superior Courts are there, interested persons may opt for the mechanism provided under Article 209". Orakzai told the Supreme Court "by blocking the publicizing of the information about a Judge, the Order itself negates and nullifies the procedure and priorities of Article 209 which it tends to emphasize." If the information about a Judge is considered by the High Court as an evil to be nipped in the bud, how would the President of Pakistan or, for that matter, the Supreme Judicial Council ever discover the truth about any judge, he questioned.
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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Oct 24, 2012
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