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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday slapped contempt of court charge against televangelist and MNA-elect Aamir Liaquat Hussain for violating earlier undertakings not to use hate speech or derogatory language against individuals, including media persons.

A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar also ordered the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader from Karachi to submit his reply to the contempt of court notice within a fortnight.

The court framed the charge while taking up petitions filed by anchorperson Shahzeb Khanzada, Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Ltd, Mir Ibrahim-ur-Rehman and Najam Aziz Sethi accusing Mr Hussain of flouting the March 28, 2017 restraining order in which he was cautioned to desist from defamatory campaigns and unethical mode of conducting television shows.

A number of clips of his television programmes were played in the courtroom and the chief justice regretted how individuals with no control over their tongue could be allowed to sit in parliament.

On Wednesday, the apex court had imposed a fine of Rs20,000 on Mr Hussain for his absence when the case was taken up and directed that the amount of the fine be deposited in the account of the SC-created Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams fund.

CJP regrets how individuals with no control over their tongue can be allowed to sit in parliament

Faisal Siddiqui, the counsel for the petitioners, argued that 13 orders had been passed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and even bans were slapped on Mr Hussain on a number of times, but all in vain, adding that Mr Hussain be dealt with sternly for the breach of his earlier undertakings.

In one of the video clips, the PTI leader was shown dubbing the chief executive of a private television channel father of India, son of India, etc, while in the other he had described the owner of the Jang Group and Najam Sethi as Indian agents.

When the chief justice called the anchorperson to the rostrum to explain who his addressee in the programme was, he promptly said that he was referring to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian intelligence and security adviser Ajit Kumar Doval.

But the chief justice was not amused and expressed his displeasure, retorting that the anchorperson was lying. “Is this the statement he wanted to offer in the court,” he wondered.

Shahab Sarki, the counsel for Mr Hussain, explained that his client was referring to the anchorperson of an Indian television channel who ran a show on Mr Hussain.

The court asked if the Election Commission of Pakistan had notified Mr Hussain’s success in the election and wondered whether such people should sit in parliament.

The court even called director news of BOL television Sami Ibrahim and asked what kind of programme the channel was airing. He expressed his regrets and assured the court that such kind of programmes would not be aired again.

One of the petitions accused Mr Hussain of labelling the petitioners ghaddar (traitors) and gustakh (disrespectful) in his show “Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga”.

It alleged that the anchorperson was running an active campaign against the applicants to defame and bring disrepute to them. Moreover, it added, Mr Hussain had a history of going in contravention of Pemra as well as earlier court orders.

“The contemnor continuously abuses his power as a media person,” the petition contended, adding that time and again he had taken advantage of his position as media person by making statements which were completely out of context and without any evidence.

The petitioners requested the apex court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Mr Hussain under Article 204 of the Constitution and under provisions of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003. The petition had also sought a restraining order not to defame the applicants by halting the broadcast of his television show.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2018