High Court suspends Pak Interior Ministry notice on ARY News


Islamabad, Aug 14 : The Sindh High Court has suspended Pakistan interior ministry's notice until August 17 that cancelled security clearance of ARY News, local media reported. A bench comprising Justice Adnan Iqbal Chaudhry also issued notices to the interior secretary, the chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, a federal law officer and other defendants for the hearing on August 17, Dawn reported. On Saturday, the ARY News management filed a lawsuit in the high court challenging an interior ministry notice issued on August 11 directing Pemra to cancel the NOC issued to ARY News "with immediate effect and until further orders on the basis of adverse reports from agencies". The counsel said the SHC directed Pemra on August 10 to restore the transmission of ARY News and restrained it from suspending or revoking the channel's licence until August 17. However, that order was not complied with and instead the ministry issued the notice to Pemra, he said, Dawn reported. Meanwhile, media bodies have slamĀ­med the government's move to ban ARY News and demanded the authorities restore the channel. Expressing concerns about the cancellation of ARY News' NOC, the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) in a statement asked the authorities to follow due legal process and give the channel an opportunity to explain its position, Dawn reported. "The PBA has always supported responsible journalism and freedom of expression within the parameters of the Constitution. Any violations of the electronic media code of conduct endorsed by the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan must be dealt with by following the legal process," it said. The Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors has also demanded the government immediately withdraw a notification cancelling the NOC issued to ARY News and noted that the government's decision had put the jobs of hundreds of workers in jeopardy. In a joint statement, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President Afzal Butt and Secretary General Arshad Ansari noted that the government had ignored the Sindh High Court's order to restore the TV channel by 7 p.m. on Aug 12. The PFUJ also held a large demonstration outside the ARY's Islamabad office to show solidarity with the channel. Butt has said the journalists' body would launch agitation across the country if the channel was not restored. "It is feared that the negative report of the agencies could be used as a justification to strangle other TV channels in the future," PUFJ was quoted as saying by Dawn. /IANS


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