ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court allowed anchorperson Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain on Monday to continue with his controversial show Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga, but with certain restrictions.
The host will not conduct, distribute or broadcast any programme in private channel Bol News that amounts to hatred or disturbance of public peace.
Not only the anchorperson would desist from such a programme but he was also required to furnish transcripts of each programme, along with USB, before the SC registrar office so that the court could determine whether its prohibitory order was being followed or not, said an order issued by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.
The apex court had taken up an appeal filed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority against the Islamabad High Court’s Feb 26 order which had given the anchorperson the go-ahead to conduct his show after suspending the ban imposed on his programme by Pemra for hate speech.
The Supreme Court observed that the high court had not considered its Feb 8 order while allowing the anchorperson to continue with the programme. The apex court had ordered the Bol News management to respond to Pemra’s Jan 26 ban for allegedly expounding hate speech against certain individuals, though in the meanwhile the programme would remain off-air.
While concluding the proceedings, the court also warned the anchorperson of initiating contempt of court proceedings in case of violation of its orders.
The apex court dictated in its order that the anchorperson, who was present in the courtroom, had given an undertaking that he would not hold any programme which violated Section 27 of the Pemra law.
Referring to a large number of complaints filed against the anchorperson in the Council of Complaints — a body constituted under the Pemra laws — the court ordered that all the complaints be handed over to Mr Hussain as well as the counsel for Messrs Labbaik (Pvt) Ltd, which owns the BOL News channel. They were directed to file their replies to the complaints with the regulator within three days.
However, the court said the media regulator would be absolutely free and independent to pass any order without prejudice to the present proceedings in the Supreme Court.
During the proceedings, the anchorperson accused Pemra of being vindictive against his programme and said that although the regulator was also seized with a number of complaints against another private TV channel, it was not taking any action against them.
He said Pemra chairman Absar Alam had committed contempt of court by appointing private counsel in the case contrary to a recent judgement of the apex court where engaging private counsel by government departments was censured.
But the chief justice observed that the court could not put any restriction on the freedom of speech and asked Pemra to decide the case against Mr Hussain within a week after listening to his point of view.
Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2017