PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Monday directed the federal government, regulators, filmmaker and the country’s top religious body to respond by Nov 23 to a petition seeking ban on the movie Joyland and removal of its trailers from social media.

A bench consisting of Justice Ijaz Anwar and Justice Arshad Ali issued the directions during a hearing into a petition of lawyers Sara Ali Khan, Mir Mohsinuddin, Kamranul Salam, Zainab Iftikhar and Aneesur Rehman against the movie.

The petitioners made the federal government, law and justice ministry, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, Federal Investigation Agency, Council of Islamic Ideology, and the movie’s director and producer the respondents.

The bench directed them all to submit their replies separately by the next hearing fixed for Nov 23.

Court seeks response of govt, regulators, filmmaker to petition

The petitioners insisted that Joyland was an un-Islamic and unconstitutional movie and was made to “insult their religion, family system, bond and domestic life.”

Read more: Is Joyland facing curbs for humanising transpersons?

They said the movie had been produced in Pakistan and its story was not only against Islam and cultural norms but also against the other religions, cultures and beliefs.

The petitioners also said Joyland didn’t fall in the category of entertainment and instead, it would negatively impact the people, especially youths, and destroy marriages and family institutions by promoting nudity, vulgarity and homosexuality, which was fatal for the entire society, and thus, inviting the extreme displeasure of the Almighty Allah.

They said they had also obtained a fatwa (religious edict) against the movie, also supported LGBT people.

The petitioners also said the trailers and contents of Joyland had been posted on thevideo-sharing website YouTube and various other social media platforms, so the movie should be banned on social media platforms, cinemas, theatres and TV channels.

They said the movie said movie not only violated the constitutional provisions, including Articles 2, 2-A, 19, 30, 31, 35, 37 and 38, but also went against the teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah, so it shouldn’t be allowed to be screened in the country.

The petitioners argued that the freedom of expression, which was guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution, was not an absolute privilege and rather, it was subject to modality, dignity and restrictions imposed by the Constitution, which didn’t allow the use of “vulgar and inappropriate” applications.

They said the respondents had the authority to regulate the establishment and operation of all broadcasting media and distribution services in the country for international, provincial, district, local or special audience.

The petitioners said they were aggrieved and had no other alternate and efficacious remedy, so they’re constrained to invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of the high court under Article 199 of Constitution on the matter.

They added that the acts of respondents on Joyland were illegal and us-Islamic and warranted interference by the court.

The petitioners prayed the court to direct the respondents that Joyland be banned to extent of the violation of the provision of the 1973 Constitution.

They also sought orders for the respondents to restrict the screening of Joyland anywhere in the country and for the producer and director not to make movies, which “affect moral values and customs, and are against Quran, Sunnah and Constitution.”

The petitioners requested the court to direct respondents to restrict the screening of Joyland on virtual private networks.

The bench issued notices to the respondents on the next hearing on Nov 23.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2022

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