Updated Sep 11, 2018 02:17pm

SC issues contempt notice to Aamir Liaquat, questions if he should be in the parliament

Haseeb Bhatti

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday issued a show cause notice to televangelist Aamir Liaquat for alleged contempt of court on his part, with Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarking that "such people should not be in the parliament".

A three-member bench of the apex court, under Justice Nisar's stewardship, issued the notice while hearing a private TV channel's petition against Liaquat, who had missed the same case's hearing yesterday.

After the case proceedings began today with Liaquat in attendance, Jang group's counsel Faisal Iqbal told the court that the TV anchor, in one of his TV programmes, had "accused Geo TV anchor Shahzeb Khanzada of supporting blasphemy convicts".

"He also levelled grave allegations against Najam Sethi," the counsel added. "No one has the right to call anyone infidel or traitor."

At the chief justice's orders, a clip of Liaquat's said shows was played in the courtroom. In the clip, Liaquat, who recently won a National Assembly seat on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf's ticket, was observed hurling insults at the owner of a private TV channel.

"Do [you] teach the general public this through TV?" Justice Nisar remarked, addressing the TV personality. "A person who does not know what to say at a public forum, should he be in the parliament?"

The chief justice pondered suspending the notification of Liaquat's recent electoral victory.

In February 2017, the Supreme Court had directed Bol News — Liaquat's current employers — to immediately cease airing all "hateful content" or face contempt of court charges.

After watching the content of the video clip today, when the Supreme Court asked Liaquat to explain himself, the anchor claimed that he had used the insulting words for "Narendra Modi and Ajeet Duval".

The chief justice cut short Liaquat's explanation and said: "You are again lying in the court. This drama won't fly here."

The CJP then issued a contempt of court show cause notice to the PTI leader for lying in the court and using abusive language, and gave him two weeks to submit his written reply to the charge.

The case was adjourned until an unspecified date.

This is not the first time that the vitriolic content of Liaquat's shows has landed him in hot water. In December 2017, the Islamabad High Court, via an interim order, had barred him from making television appearances, although the ban was lifted in March 2018.

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