TV Analyst Hafeezullah Khan Niazi on Wednesday challenged in the Lahore High Court a 30-day ban on his appearance on television channels imposed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).
The appeal was filed by Niazi against Pemra, the body's regional general manager, information ministry and Senator Azam Khan Swati. On Tuesday, Pemra had placed a ban on the analyst for allegedly making "defamatory" remarks against Swati in the programme "Report Card" that was aired on Geo TV on July 6.
Niazi levelled certain allegations against Senator Swati which the channel could not substantiate before the Council of Complaints. The council extended sufficient time to the channel to prove veracity of its comments uttered by the analyst during the programme. But, the channel could not come up with a satisfactory reply.
Niazi, in his petition, declared the ban as "illegal, unjustified hence liable to be struck down". He further argued that he had not been issued a show cause notice and was not summoned by the regulatory body's Council of Complaints and had been "condemned unheard in violation of Article 10(a) of the Constitution" which gives every citizen the right to fair trial.
The analyst said that Pemra's order was passed "without any reasoning or proof". Niazi said that the remark, over which he has been banned, was referring to a "statement made by the relative of Imran Khan and was not his own personal statement and this relative mentioned in the said statement was never summoned for his testimony".
He urged the court to set aside Pemra's order and "in the interest of justice" check the authenticity of a joint investigation team's report and summon the premier's "relative", whose statement Niazi had referred to.
He asked the court to suspend Pemra's order until the issuance of a verdict on the petition. He also requested the court to "restrain" the regulatory body from taking any "coercive action" against the petitioner.
Swati says comments damaged credibility
Niazi, in Geo TV's programme Report Card, had claimed that a relative of the premier had said that Swati's entry was banned in United States because he had committed insurance fraud.
In response to Niazi's claims, Swati said that Niazi's statements had damaged his credibility.
He had said at the time that he had filed a case against Niazi as well as Geo TV with Pemra and intended to file a defamation suit against them claiming Rs1 billion in damages.
He had further said that Niazi would have to apologise to the viewers in the same programme to avoid further legal action, or prove the allegation.
Swati had said he had gone to the US in 1978 and remained there till 2001. “I have no case against me for the last 45 years,” the minister had maintained.