ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednes­day issued notices to the Pakistan Electron­ic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and Special Assistant to the PM on Informa­tion and Broadcasting in a case related to the closure and relegation of Geo News to lower placements on TV channel ordering.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah con­ducted hearing of the petition filed by Raja Ahsan Mahmood Satti through his counsel Barrister Jahangir Jadoon.

The IHC bench said in its written order that the petitioners are aggrieved because they assert that transmissions of one of the elec­tronic media channels i.e. “GEO Network” have been disrupted due to illegal interfer­ence by the PEMRA.

It added that the learned counsel has placed reliance on the judgments of the au­gust Supreme Court rendered in the cases titled “Independent Media Corporation and others v. Federation of Pakistan and others” [PLD 2014 S.C. 657] and “Dr Shahid Masood and others v. Federation of Pakistan and others” [2010 SCMR 1849] in order to high­light that on previous occasions the same channel had faced illegal disruptions pur­suant to instructions given by the Authority.

The court order further said that the learned counsel has stressed that funda­mental rights guaranteed under Articles 19 and 19-A of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 are being violated and he further ar­gued that the Authority is being dictated by the federal government which has compro­mised its independent status.

It maintained that it is the case of the pe­titioners that the Authority has failed in discharging its statutory obligations and to protect freedom of expression found being violated. The IHC bench said, “Let notice be issued to respondents no. 2 (Secretary In­formation Technology, 3 (Special Assistant to PM on Information) and 5 (Chairman PEMRA) for filing report and para-wise comments within a fortnight.

It added, “The Chairman, Pakistan Elec­tronic Media Regulatory Authority is di­rected to nominate an authorized officer to appear before this Court on the next date of hearing. Moreover, as a regulator the Au­thority shall ensure that any complaint re­garding interference with the transmission of its Licensee shall be removed before the date fixed. The authorized officer shall sat­isfy this Court on the date fixed that the Au­thority is fulfilling its statutory obligations as an independent regulator by safeguard­ing the constitutional rights of the Licen­sees as well as the general public.”

Later, the court adjourned the hearing till March 24 in this matter.