LAHORE: The Lahore High Court Monday banned complete coverage of speeches, display of pictures and activities of Altaf Hussain in both print and electronic media, besides asking to interior ministry to verify the nationality of the MQM chief.

Following the court orders, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) notified the ban, asking all the TV channels not to air anything that is coming from Altaf, including his pictures, statements and speeches (both live and recorded).

The court had also directed an additional advocate general to convey its orders to the Press Council of Pakistan chairman for immediate compliance of ban in the press as well. But, there was no news if the council had issued any notification in this regard.

On the other hand, the Karachi based party said it will challenge the decision in the Supreme Court. “We will challenge the decision in the Supreme Court as well as file review petition in the LHC,” Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawyer and leader Farogh Naseem told a press conference on Monday. He said while interim orders cannot be challenged, there are some exceptions, and while using the legal recourse available, the party will approach the Supreme Court over it.

Pointing out shortcomings in the court’s decision, he said that the petitions filed had no proper addresses of the respondents, and therefore neither the MQM nor Altaf Hussain had been given any notice.

Earlier, a full bench, comprising Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu and Justice Erum Sajad Gull, issued the orders while hearing three identical petitions seeking proceedings against Altaf Hussain under Article 6 of the constitution. Proceedings under this article are carried out against traitors and it could result in death penalty to an accused. Petitioners Abdullah Malik, Aftab Virk and others have claimed that MQM chief delivered speeches against the state institutions, including army and rangers.

An additional advocate general told the bench that despite his intimation the report regarding the status of Altaf Hussain was not received from the federal government.

A Pemra legal adviser presented a copy of Notification No 13 (99)/Opps/011/341/, dated May 1, 2015, according to which the regulator had issued a directive under Section 27 of Ordinance, 2002, to all television channels to stop airing any hate speech from Altaf Hussain .

The petitioner’s counsels said Pemra directive was of general nature and it did not contain any specific instruction regarding Altaf so it failed to serve the purpose. They said their petition contained sufficient material to establish that the speeches made by MQM chief were against integrity and sovereignty of the country.

After hearing arguments, the bench observed, “There is sufficient material available on record to issue a direction to the Pemra chairman to completely ban all activities of Altaf Hussain , including hate speeches, news items and his pictures on electronic media.”

An additional attorney general for Pakistan sought time to submit a report and comments in the light of an Aug 31 order of the court. The court accepted his plea and adjourned further hearing until September 18. On previous hearing, the LHC had sought report from the foreign ministry regarding the status of Altaf’s nationality.

The petitioners had also argued Altaf was a British national and a foreigner could not become the head of a political party as per law. Altaf Hussain had no right to deliver live speeches on local television channels, they further argued.

They pointed out that Altaf Hussain also committed violation of articles 243, 244, 245, 62 and 63 of the constitution and showed his support to the anti-state powers in his speeches.

They told the bench that they also approached the PM Office and interior ministry for action against not only Altaf but some other MQM leaders too, but no action was taken against ‘hate mongers’.

The petitioners prayed to the court to ban the speeches of the MQM chief and his party leaders, including Baber Ghauri, Farooq Sattar, Nadeem Nusrat, Ateequr Rehman, Irshad Zafar and Khalid Maqbool. They also prayed to the court to order the authorities concerned to implement the ban on the live telecast of the speeches of the MQM chief and his party leaders.