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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday indicted Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmaker and televangelist Aamir Liaquat Hussain in a contempt of court case initiated against him for violating earlier undertakings not to use hate speech or derogatory language against individuals, including media persons.

“Your TV programme and your statement … tantamount to disobeying, disregarding and flouting the orders of the Supreme Court and your conduct tends to disrespect and ridicule this court and thereby you obstructed, interfered and prejudiced the process of law and due course of proceedings of this court,” stated the charges read out by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, who was heading a two-judge SC bench.

Through his counsel Advocate Shahab Sarki, the PTI MNA pleaded not guilty, though he again sought pardon from the court and tendered apology.

The apex court is seized with a set of petitions moved 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 order restraining him from carrying out defamatory campaigns and conducting television shows in an unethical manner.

The objectionable contents in question were aired on Bol TV programme “Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga” on March 9 last year.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had also 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.

The charges stated that the parliamentarian was found guilty of committing the contempt of the court within the meaning of Article 204 of the Constitution, read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003, punishable under Section 5 of the ordinance whose offence was cognizable by the apex court.

The petitioners, represented by senior counsel Faisal Siddiqui, earlier contended 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 he 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.

The petitioners accused Mr Hussain of labelling them ghaddar (traitors) and gustakh (disrespectful) in his TV show. They also alleged that the anchorperson was running an active campaign to defame and bring disrepute to them. Moreover, Mr Hussain had a history of going in contravention of Pemra as well as earlier court orders, they argued.

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

They had requested the apex court to initiate contempt of court proceedings under Article 204 of the Constitution and under provisions of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2018