Islamabad-The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday issued notice to Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) in a petition challenging ban on the broadcast of an interview of the arrested terrorist Ehsanullah Ehsan.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq issued the notices in the petition of IMCL moved against PEMRA’s letter of April 27 banning the broadcast of Ehsan’s interview and directed the respondent to submit reply till May 8 in this matter.

In its petition, Independent Media Corporation Pvt Ltd (IMCL) challenged PEMRA’s letter imposing a ban on the broadcast of Ehsanullah’s interview in a program of a private TV channel.

It was stated in the petition that on April 26, 2017, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) issued a confessional statement of detained Ehsanullah Ehsan who was a spokesperson for the banned terrorist organizations of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JA).  Petition added that objective and purpose of the broadcast of the said confessional statement was to expose the true face of TTP and JA, to disclose funding and support from enemy countries, to boost morale of the countrymen who immensely suffered due to terrorism activities, to convey a message to the nation that these terrorists were on the run and to convey message to the terrorist that their days were numbered.

It continued that formerly, statements of Uzair Baloch, Saulat Mirza, Kalbhushan Yadev and recently of Naureen Leghari were broadcasted on media and the broadcast of such confessional statements also comes under the ambit of Article 19-A and PEMRA Ordinance 2002. It is important to note that PEMRA never objected over the broadcast of such confessional statements.

The petitioner adopted that in furtherance of the objectives stated above, ISPR provided opportunity to the anchor Saleem Safi to interview Ehsanullah Ehsan to further elaborate the confessional statement and appellant number 2 Saleem Safi with the fullest cooperation of the ISPR recorded interview of Ehsan for his program.  After recording, interview was thoroughly reviewed and edited by the authorities and editorial committee of appellant consisting of very serious journalists. It was after approval of the ISPR that appellant released promo of the program informing general public about the interview.

To utter shock and dismay of the appellant, PEMRA on April 27, issued a letter under Section 27 of the PEMRA ordinance and imposed a ban on the broadcast of the interview.

Petitioner stated that in the said letter PEMRA referred to the Clause 3 (3) of the electronic media (programs and advertisements) code of conduct 2015, for taking it such draconian, illegal and drastic action of banning the broadcast of said program.

It was contended in the petition that PEMRA’s letter is violation of the section 24-A of the general clauses act and against articles 4, 5, 19 and 19-A of the Constitution and the authority did not consider the fact that Ehsan has been under the custody of Army and his interview recorded with their approval.

Therefore, he prayed to the court to set aside PEMRA’s said letter and restrain the authority from taking any coercive action against the appellant.