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ATC sends owner, producer of web channel on judicial remand to Adiala jail for airing anti-judiciary remarks

October 18, 2018

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Hans Masroor and Ahsan Saleem. — Photo by author
Hans Masroor and Ahsan Saleem. — Photo by author

An Anti-terrorism Court (ATC) in Islamabad on Thursday sent the owner and producer of a web channel on judicial remand to Adiala Jail in a case pertaining to running alleged anti-judiciary content on their channel.

Hans Masroor, the owner of a web channel Naya Pakistan, and the producer of the channel Ahsan Saleem were both arrested by Islamabad police and presented before the court.

This decision was taken in reference to an FIR lodged against former senator Faisal Raza Abidi in the Secretariat police station, accusing him of using "highly insulting and inappropriate language" against the chief justice and the judiciary in an interview.

This FIR also accuses him of "undermining the honour of the chief justice [and] inciting the public".

The FIR, which was registered under Section 7 of the ATA and includes different sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, does not specify the programme it is referring to.

However, a separate FIR registered against Abidi with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016, refers to remarks made by the former senator during a programme titled Subah Subah Naya Pakistan aired on the web channel Naya Pakistan on July 2, 2018.

According to the FIR lodged with the FIA, during the course of his appearance on the show, "the accused, with criminal intent and ulterior motives and without any lawful justification used sarcastic, derogatory, disrespectful and defamatory language against the chief justice".

'This is tantamount to creating a sense of fear, panic and insecurity among the government, general public and society," it added.

It also said that Abidi is prima facie guilty of offences punishable under Sections 10(a), 11 and 20, of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016, read with Sections 109 and 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

In today's hearing, both the accused admitted to the charges levelled against them and were subsequently sent to jail on a judicial remand by ATC Judge Syed Kausar.