The Supreme Court of Pakistan has suspended the decision of the Islamabad High Court to shut down the private TV channel Neo News and ordered to resume broadcasting.
A two-member bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Yahya Afridi heard the petition filed by Neo News in the federal capital.
It should be noted that Neo TV had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the decision of the Islamabad High Court.
During the hearing in the court today, his lawyer Ali Zafar appeared on behalf of Neo News and took the position that two principles are very clear in the law. The first principle is that subordinate laws cannot be made that contradict the basic law. That there can be no anti-law legislation.
Ali Zafar said that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) made the regulations, using its executive powers. Such changes are possible only through the rules while the approval of the rules is required from the cabinet.
The lawyer said that under the PEMRA Act 2002, PEMRA could stop broadcasting material if it was against the public interest. Justice Yahya Afridi asked why he did not raise these legal issues in the Islamabad High Court.
On this, Ali Zafar said that we had challenged the decision of PEMRA in the Islamabad High Court.
Later, after the completion of arguments, the court suspended the decision of the Islamabad High Court and ordered to resume broadcasting of Neo TV.
The court said that Neo News should approach the Islamabad High Court for relief against PEMRA regulations.
It may be recalled that the issue of Neo TV license came to light when PEMRA on April 30 ordered Neo TV to immediately shut down programs based on illegal news and current affairs and broadcast only approved 'entertainment' content. A fine of Rs 10 lakh was imposed.
PEMRA has taken a stand that Neo TV should broadcast content based on the entertainment category issued under the license.
It was also said that Neo TV had channeled the orders of PEMRA in the Islamabad High Court but the court rejected the appeal of Neo TV and upheld the orders of PEMRA.
Later on May 7, PEMRA immediately suspended the license of Neo TV for airing illegal news and current affairs programs despite warnings.
In this regard, PEMRA had said in a statement that the channel had challenged him in the Islamabad High Court instead of following his orders, but the court had rejected Neo TV's appeal.
PEMRA said that Neo TV was provided several opportunities to broadcast original content but failed to return to the original programs of Licensed Entertainment and violated the orders of PEMRA as well as the order of the respected Islamabad High Court.