High Court issues show-cause notice to TV channel
By: Malik Asad
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court issued a show-cause notice to the owner of a private television channel on Tuesday for airing a programme containing defamatory and scandalous material against judges of superior judiciary.
Hearing a petition filed by Nadeem Ahmed through his counsel Akram Sheikh, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui directed Haji Abdul Razzak Yaqub, owner of ARY TV, to “explain why contempt of court proceedings may not be initiated against him for ridiculing the authority of the court” and frustrating the order of Oct 9, 2012.
On Oct 9, the court had directed the chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to “ensure that no channel be allowed to telecast any programme containing un-commendable, malicious and wicked material against the Chief Justice of Pakistan and other judges of the superior courts”.
The order was passed after the petitioner had expressed apprehensions that a new round of a defamation campaign against the judges of superior judiciary would be launched through the electronic media.
The secretary of the ministry of information and broadcasting and Pemra chairman informed the court on Oct 15 that “programmes, telecast by certain channels, were in violation of conditions of their licences”.
The judge pointed out that Senator Faisal Raza Abidi in a programme ‘Soch Pakistan’ telecast by ARY News on Oct 26 had passed derogatory and taunting remarks in an uncivilised manner against the chief justice and other judges of the superior judiciary.
The judge said no one would be allowed to abuse the term “freedom of expression” to malign anyone. Justice Siddiqui directed the Pemra chairman to provide details of the licence of ARY with information about its shareholders along with the compact disc of the programme ‘Soch Pakistan’ of Oct 26.
The Pemra chairman was also directed to report at which place the said programme was recorded and who had allowed its recording.
Justice Siddiqui observed that the Pemra chairman was duty-bound to proceed against the channel for violating the conditions of its licence because under the consistent breach of the code of conduct the channel would face suspension or cancellation of its licence.
Sabir Shakir, the bureau chief of ARY Islamabad, told Dawn that TV channels were not a party in the petition seeking restrictions on media programmes. “Neither have we received any notice nor has Pemra informed us about the court order,” he said.
Answering a question, he said ARY TV had an efficient system of filtering out unwanted and objectionable contents. Adil Abbasi, the host of ‘Soch Pakistan’, said his channel did not commit any contempt of court. “If any particular person passed derogatory and malicious remarks, he should be dealt with in accordance with the law.”
He said electronic media had played an important role during the campaign for the restoration of judiciary and defied the orders of the ‘Dogar court’. The programme aired on Oct 26 was informative and was not intended to defame any segment of society, he added.