Bol takes Aamir Liaquat off-air on SC orders
ISLAMABAD: The management of Bol Television assured the Supreme Court on Monday that it would immediately take Aamir Liaquat Hussain’s show, ‘Aisay Nahi Chaley Ga’, off-air for allegedly expounding hate speech against several individuals.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, cautioned Usman Shahid, executive officer of Labbaik (Pvt) Ltd — the company that owns Bol TV — that any violation of its commitment with the court would lead to contempt of court proceedings.
“If the programme is aired today, we will proceed against the management as well as the anchor,” Justice Muslim warned before postponing proceedings until Wednesday.
The court took exception to the absence of senior counsel Anwar Mansoor, who represents Labbaik (Pvt) Ltd, as well as Advocate on Record (AoR) K.A. Wahab. Mr Mansoor could not appear due to health reasons, while Mr Wahab had requested another AoR to appear on his behalf. However, the stand-in had no knowledge of the case.
The bench is hearing an appeal, moved by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) against a Jan 27, 2017 stay, granted to Bol TV by the Sindh High Court (SHC) against a Pemra order dated Jan 26, 2017. The prohibition order was issued after the authority received complaints that the host, in his shows telecast between Jan 2 and Jan 24, 2017, had levelled unfounded and baseless allegations against certain activists and journalists, accusing them of being “anti-Pakistan” and “anti-Islam”, endangering innocent lives.
Pemra’s notice had prohibited the host from delivering any hate speech, declaring anyone “kafir” (infidel) or “ghaddar” (traitor) on his show or on any other channel.
“The monitoring of the show during this period revealed that the host was wilfully and repeatedly making statements and allegations that [were] tantamount to hate speech, derogatory remarks, incitement to violence and casting aspersions on citizens of being ‘anti-state’ and ‘anti-Islam’,” Pemra’s petition maintained.
Such statements blatantly violated section 20 of the Pemra Ordinance 2002 and rule 15 of the Pemra Rules 2009 and clauses 3, 13, 22 and 23 of the Code of Conduct 2015.
But despite the prohibition notice, the channel proceeded to air the show and accordingly, on Jan 27, the authority issued a show cause notice, asking the channel why appropriate legal action should not be initiated against them.
The channel went into appeal before the SHC against the order, which subsequently suspended Pemra’s prohibition order.
In the Supreme Court, Pemra chairman Absar Alam argued that the high court had failed to appreciate the gravity and seriousness of the allegations cast by the host against the individuals.
“In the current religious and political climate in Pakistan, declaring individuals “kafir” or “ghaddar” is nothing short of incitement to violence,” the petition stated, adding that the Supreme Court had also held in different cases that such allegations, when broadcast on media, provided a motive for murder.
In the inquiry report by the commission on the Quetta terrorism incidents, it was observed that programmes and broadcasts should never justify acts of violence or terrorism, Pemra argued.