Lahore HC bans airing anti-judiciary speeches of ex-PM Nawaz Sharif

Lawyer Amjad Pervaiz will continue cross-examination of Panama JIT head Wajid Zia

Until the authority decides the complaints, no alleged "anti-judiciary speeches" delivered by PML-N leaders will be allowed to be aired during the 15 days, the court ruled, directing PEMRA to ensure strict monitoring of programmes to prevent any such content from being broadcast.

The larger bench, headed by Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, gave this verdict on petitions seeking initiation of contempt cases against former premier Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and other PML-N leaders for criticizing the judiciary.

During the proceedings, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority was directed to decide on complaints against "anti-judiciary speeches" within 15 days. About 27 miscellaneous contempt petitions were filed in the Lahore HC against Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, ousted PM Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and 14 other lawmakers since the disqualification of Sharif in the Panama Papers case verdict.

Justice Naqvi remarked that while Article 19 of the Constitution allowed fair criticism of judiciary, not every person should be allowed to criticise it just for the sake of exercising their right to criticise. It made sense for a lawyer or an expert in legal matters to comment on judicial verdicts, the judge added.

When the court asked the regulatory body why it had dismissed the petitions, Pemra's counsel Salman Akram Raja said the allegations against the government agency were baseless.

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"This is not a minor mistake", the bench observed. It added that the remarks caused stress to his client after which he expects no fair treatment at the hands of Justice Naqvi.

"This is not a minor mistake", the bench replied. PEMRA's counsel admitted that the move was a mistake.

Maryam's counsel Amjad Pervez resumed cross-examination of Wajid Zia, an additional director at the Federal Investigation Agency who headed the Panama case joint investigation team (JIT) which probed the Sharif family's assets past year.

They said the regulatory body had so far failed to take any action to stop the airing of the speeches despite high court orders in this regard.

The third accused, Nawaz's son-in-law MNA Muhammad Safdar, was present in court.

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