SHC allows journalists to report court proceedings

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DNA

KARACHI: After the Islamabad High Court (IHC), the Sindh High Court (SHC) also allowed journalists to report on court proceedings, but asked them to ensure following “the guidelines and law”.

The SHC’s decision came as it heard a petition of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) challenging the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra)’s restriction on airing of court proceedings on news channels.

The high court said the apex court’s guidelines should be adopted while reporting as the Pemra could take action upon violation of the rules and guidelines established by the SC.

Meanwhile, on a similar plea by the Press Association and PFUJ, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had Wednesday assured journalists that there was no ban on court reporting but “irresponsible” court reporting.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq said: “There is no ban on court reporting. The media can report the court proceedings.”

The chief justice, however, maintained that the ban was, in fact, on “irresponsible reporting”. “The problem is only with running sensational tickers,” said Justice Farooq.

The petitions were filed in the high courts after the electronic media watchdog issued two notifications ordering TV channels to not run reporting of court proceedings and for reporters to only report courts’ written orders.

In a notification issued on May 21, the media watchdog directed all satellite news channel licensees that no content, including commentary, opinions, or suggestions about the potential fate of such sub-judice matter which tends to prejudice the determination by a court shall be aired.

“Further, TV Channels are directed to refrain from airing tickers/headlines with regard to court proceedings till the final order,” it added.

All satellite TV channel licensees were also directed to ensure strict compliance to the Pemra laws in line with the judgment of the Supreme Court “in Suo Moto Case No. 28 of 2018 (reported as 2019 PLD SC 1) in letter and spirit”.

The media watchdog also warned of legal action in case of any violation.