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SC issues notices to Pemra, AG in Geo TV case

19 December, 2007

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Tuesday issued notices to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), Federation of Pakistan and attorney general in a case regarding suspension of transmission of Geo TV and adjourned the hearing till January 1, 2008.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar observed that apparently the Sindh High Court did not dismiss the petition on merit. Other members of the bench included Justice Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi and Justice Mian Hamid Farooq.

A division bench of the SHC comprising Justice Muneeb Ahmed Khan and Justice Dr Rana Muhammad Shamim had dismissed as non-maintainable the identical petitions of the Independent Media Limited and Birds Private Limited against closure of transmission of Geo News, Geo Entertainment, Geo Super and Aag channels after five hearings, observing that several fundamental rights were suspended under the state of emergency and Provisional Constitution Order (PCO).

The Independent Media Corporation Private Limited and Birds Private Limited then filed a civil petition in the Supreme on December 10 against the dismissal of their petitions by the Sindh High Court (SHC) on December 4.

On November 3 President Musharraf had declared the state of emergency in the country and as a result transmissions of various private television channels were suspended. Later, the Pemra Ordinance was amended and after getting assurances from TV channels their transmissions were restored except Geo television.

On Tuesday, Muhammad Azhar advocate, counsel for Geo television while appearing before the court submitted that channels were closed without issuance of notice by the authority concerned. He said that the ban is without lawful authority.

He further contended that it was necessary for Pemra to issue show cause notice or reasons to Geo TV channels but except a verbal direction to cable TV operators nothing was communicated in writing. The act of Pemra, besides being discriminatory, is also a serious violation of Section 24-A of General Clauses Act and also against Pemra’s own laws, rules and regulations, he argued.

He further contended that his client wants restoration of the channels (Geo News, Geo Entertainment, Geo Super and Geo Aag). During the proceedings, the chief justice observed that Geo television could approach the Sindh High Court to solve the issue as after lifting the emergency all fundamental rights have been restored.

Justice Nawaz Abbasi said Geo television could withdraw their petition from the Supreme Court and re-file it in the High Court. The learned counsel however requested the court to remand the case to Sindh High Court. However, the court observed that it could not remand the case to SHC without listening to the other parties.

At this the learned counsel for Geo television requested the court to issue notices to the respondents as they want to proceed with the case in the Supreme Court. The court issued notices to Pemra, Federation of Pakistan and Attorney General Malik Muhammad Qayyum and adjourned the hearing till January 1, 2008.

The suspension of the transmission of Geo television network’s news channel Geo News, entertainment channel Geo TV, youth’s channel Aag and the first complete sports channel Geo Super was challenged by the Birds Private Limited on November 10 in the Sindh High Court. It was contended in the petition that Aag and Geo Super were purely youth and sports channels and their licences were granted under the Pemra Ordinance 2002.


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