PEMRA’s Ban on Intimate Scenes Challenged in Lahore High Court

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday issued notice to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) in connection with a plea seeking reversal of the regulatory body’s recent directive.

In a notification issued on 21 October, the PEMRA had warned entertainment channels against airing ‘objectionable scenes’ and closeness between couples.

It had said that “objectionable dramas/content based on indecent dressing, caressing, bed scenes and gestures, sensitive/controversial plots and unnecessary detailing of the event(s)” should not be shown on TV.

It noted that such content was ‘highly disturbing, distressing for the viewers’ and against the commonly accepted standards of decency.

“Hugs/caress scenes/extramarital relations, vulgar/bold dressing, bed scenes, and intimacy of married couple are being glamorized in utter disregard to Islamic teachings and culture of Pakistani society,” the media regulator said.

The authority said it had been receiving numerous complaints against such bold scenes on Pakistan Citizen Portal (PCP), PEMRA complaint call center, and feedback system.

While a number of people commended the decision, others thought it was a sick move. A citizen even submitted a plea with the LHC, which was taken up by Justice Jawad Hassan.

The petition contended that the PEMRA’s notification was ‘illegal’ and ‘contrary to the ethos of the PEMRA Ordinance 2002.’

It argued that the media watchdog had no authority to issue orders such as those mentioned in the notification to television channels. It maintained that the directive was based on “malafide, ulterior motives” and reflected the “sick mentality” of PEMRA authorities.

The petitioner requested the court to ask PEMRA to reverse its directives and halt the regulator from imposing such ‘impugned directives’ on TV channels.

Directing PEMRA to submit a reply in the next hearing, Justice Jawad appointed Barrister Ahmed Pansota as the amicus brief in the case.