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IHC seeks arguments in PECA case, record of TV licenses

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday sought written arguments from petitioners in the cases challenging amendments in the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA).

Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petitions filed by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and other journalists’ bodies.

The court was told that Attorney General of Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan could not attend the proceedings due to his engagements in the Supreme Court. After this, the court sought written arguments from the respondents and adjourned the case till April 7.

Earlier, the court had noted that an ordinance amending the PECA was promulgated in violation of the Constitution’s Article 89. The IHC chief justice raised the questioned as to why the government had promulgated the ordinance with such urgency.

He also sought arguments on the amendment in Section 20 of the law whereby defamation had been made a crime carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison, adding that it was being misused to end political debates.

Record of TV licenses

In separate case challenging issuance of TV licenses beyond capacity, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday sought relevant record from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).

The court asked PEMRA to also inform in its report about the international practices and whether it had the capacity to telecast more channels. Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the directives while hearing a petition filed by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA).

At the outset of hearing, the chief justice remarked that PEMRA was a regulator and it should not focus only on collecting money. PEMRA’s lawyer, however, requested the court to send the matter again to the authority.

The PBA’s lawyer said the PEMRA could conduct a study through an independent consultant regarding its capacity to run TV channels. Currently, he said, PEMRA had an analog distribution system.

PEMRA’s counsel said it would be the choice of the customers whether they wanted analog or digitalized subscription. There were more than 1,000 channels in India though they also did not the capacity to run all of them, he added.

The lawyer said the Authority was not forcing the consumers to only avail digitalized subscription. The court sought the relevant record from PEMRA and adjourned hearing till May 13.

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