The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the decision of Lahore High Court (LHC) restricting the media from broadcasting or publishing the photos, speeches or political activities of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain.
The LHC on September 7, 2015, while issuing orders had restricted the TV channels and newspapers from broadcasting or publishing speeches, statements, photos or activities of the MQM chief Altaf Hussain.
Altaf, however, had challenged the LHC decision before the Supreme Court. The MQM chief had filed an appeal in the apex court through his counsel Asma Jehangir, contending that the LHC decision violates freedom of expression, basic rights and the Constitution, and pleaded to the Supreme Court to declare it null and void.
A two-member bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan and Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, disposed of the appeal, directing the counsels for the MQM chief to approach the LHC wherein the instant case was pending.
The court directed the counsels for the petitioner to approach the high court after Additional Attorney General Waqar Rana submitted before the court that the LHC order was not an interim order but an independent order wherein final orders regarding the matter were still pending.
Justice Ijaz Afzal observed that the LHC on September 7 had restricted the TV channels and newspapers from broadcasting or publishing speeches, statements, photos or activities of the MQM chief.
He said that the stay order was for 15 days and was due to end on September 18 and after that no extension was made. “Let the high court may decide further in the stay matter and we remand the instant case to learned Lahore High Court”, Justice Ijaz Afzal said, adding that at this stage the apex court cannot say anything as it is not yet known as to what would be the final decision of the LHC in the matter and what would be its effects.
The court, while remanding the matter to the LHC, asked the counsels for Altaf Hussain to approach the high court regarding the stay matter also.Meanwhile, the court disposed of the matter after remanding it to the LHC with the ruling that the high court would decide whether or not to uphold the order in this regard.
Earlier, during the course of proceeding, Justice Qazi Faiz Isa observed that the court cannot allow independent speeches, adding that if someone had made speeches against the State, it is the responsibility of the government to take notice of it. He, however, said that nobody could be deprived of freedom of expression if made in a right manner.