The Lahore High Court on Monday imposed a temporary ban on the airing of anti-judiciary speeches by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and other leaders of his party, Geo News reported.
The court directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, or Pemra, to take a call on the petitions filed against the Sharifs within 15 days. Justice Mazahir Ali Naqvi said the court would monitor the regulatory body’s actions in the next two weeks.
Naqvi said that while Article 19 of the Constitution allowed fair criticism of the judiciary, not every person should be allowed to criticise the courts just for the sake of exercising the right, The Express Tribune reported. It made sense for a lawyer or an expert in legal matters to comment on judicial verdicts, the judge added. He pointed out that Article 68 even prevented Parliament from criticising the judiciary and its decisions. “A person dissatisfied at a verdict should file a review petition,” he said.
When the court asked the regulatory body why it had dismissed petitions highlighting anti-judiciary remarks, Pemra’s counsel Salman Akram Raja said the allegations against the government agency were baseless. Asked if Pemra chose not to stop anti-judiciary remarks, the lawyer admitted that the regulatory body might have committed a minor mistake by dismissing the petitions due to technical reasons.
“This is not a minor mistake,” the bench replied. “Instead of taking action, Pemra sought advice from judiciary. Should publishing of such a notice be considered a minor mistake?”
Sharif, who was ousted from office in 2017, is on trial on corruption charges. Sharif has accused the military and the judiciary of working together to remove him.
Earlier this month, Geo TV, one of Pakistan’s major television networks, claimed it had been taken off air in most parts of the country. The alleged censorship of the news channel came at a time when tensions between the military and the civilian government, led by Sharif’s political party, are high.