The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday barred televangelist and TV host Amir Liaquat Hussain from making any television appearances till further notice.
The IHC's Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, while hearing a petition filed by citizen Muhammad Abbas, passed the interim order while he hears a petition seeking a complete ban on Liaquat from using television, social media and print media on allegations he has abused his influence to spread discord and hatred in the country.
The petitioner's lawyer, Barrister Shoaib Razaq, argued in court that Liaquat does not have any Islamic degree or certification and yet calls himself an aalim (religious scholar) — a title he seems to have appropriated since hosting television show Aalim Online.
"Liaquat used that show for a number of years to create social and religious divide in the country," the petitioner alleged, adding that the televangelist has handed out fatwas (religious edicts) on kufr (cardinal sin) and treason which have put the lives of a number of people in danger.
The petitioner's counsel also pointed out that the TV show host had repeatedly violated the Pakistan Electronic Media Authority's (Pemra) code of conduct.
The petitioner also accused Pemra of failing to do its job and urged the court to ban the televangelist from appearing on television and social media or using print media to spread his views.
Justice Siddiqui subsequently ordered the federal government, Pemra, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and Amir Liaquat to file their responses.
The case was adjourned till January 10, 2018.
Hussain, a former state minister for religious affairs who has been presenting since before 2007, is no stranger to controversy.
He resigned last month from Bol TV in a series of dramatic posts on Twitter, accusing his former employer of not paying his dues and pressuring him into leveling blasphemy accusations against various individuals.
Earlier this year, Pemra had slapped a ban on Bol TV's 'Aisay Nahi Chahlay Ga' programme, which Liaquat had hosted, after he leveled blasphemy allegations against kidnapped civil society activists and bloggers during the show.
Following the incident, lawyer Jibran Nasir had also filed a complaint accusing Liaquat of running a defamatory and life-threatening campaign against him.
Pemra later said it had received hundreds of complaints with regard to Liaquat's "hate speech".
Likewise, in 2016, Pemra had barred Liaquat from hosting Ramazan show 'Inam Ghar' on Geo Entertainment for three days following his June 6 episode, in which he had distastefully re-enacted the suicide of a girl.
In 2013, he had sparked outrage by 'giving away' babies to childless couples during live coverage of his Ramazan transmission. He defended his actions as 'charity.
In 2011, a controversial behind-the-scenes video was released via social media showing the presenter using vulgar language and speaking crassly with his companions during different instances of his show.
In 2008, Liaquat was widely criticised after he hosted a TV show during which he, along with others, passed hateful comments against a minority community and discussed their murder as an act of religious duty. The show was followed within days of its airing by the murder of two people belonging to the said community.