High Courts Challenge Pemra’S Gag Order On Court Coverage: Freedom Of Press Under Fire

## High Courts Challenged Pemra’s Ban on Court Coverage

Islamabad, Lahore, and Sindh High Courts Receive Petitions

Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) recent notification prohibiting TV channels from airing news coverage of court proceedings has faced legal challenges in three high courts.

### Islamabad High Court Petition

In Islamabad, the court reporters’ association filed a petition arguing that Pemra’s directive constitutes:

– A threat to judicial independence by suppressing public knowledge of court proceedings.
– A violation of the public’s right to access information about the justice system.
– A restriction on journalists’ freedom of speech and the media’s ability to report on matters of public interest.

The petition also highlights the economic implications for courtroom journalists, whose livelihoods depend on reporting on court proceedings.

### Punjab and Sindh High Court Petitions

Similar petitions have been filed in the Punjab and Sindh High Courts. These petitions also challenge Pemra’s authority to unilaterally impose such a ban without consulting with the judiciary.

### Press Information Department’s Directive

Prior to Pemra’s notification, the Press Information Department (PID) of the Ministry of Information issued a directive to all TV channels and publications to comply with a Supreme Court order prohibiting contempt of court in media coverage.

The PID’s directive cited the potential for contempt of court charges against those broadcasting or publishing material that prejudices the determination of a court case.

### Impact on Courtroom Journalism and Public Awareness

The high court petitions and the PID’s directive have raised concerns about the impact on courtroom journalism and the public’s understanding of the justice system. Critics argue that restricting the reporting of court proceedings undermines transparency and accountability.

### Next Steps

The high courts will now hear the petitions challenging Pemra’s ban on court coverage. The outcomes of these cases will determine the extent to which the media can report on and the public can access information about court proceedings in Pakistan.