The Supreme Court on Tuesday announced that televangelist and MNA Aamir Liaquat Hussain will be indicted 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.
The decision came after a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar rejected the unconditional apology submitted by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader from Karachi.
The SC had last month slapped a contempt of court charge against Hussain while taking up petitions filed by anchorperson Shahzeb Khanzada, Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Ltd, Mir Ibrahim-ur-Rehman and Najam Aziz Sethi accusing Hussain of flouting the March 28, 2017 restraining order in which he was cautioned to desist from defamatory campaigns and unethical manner of conducting television shows.
A number of clips of Hussain's television programmes were played in the courtroom today, with the CJP rhetorically asking: "Are we [the court] sitting here to be humiliated?"
"One cannot go about apologising after committing contempt of court," Justice Nisar observed. He questioned whether a lawmaker can remain a member of National Assembly after being indicted in a contempt case.
"They cannot [remain an MNA]," replied Shahab Sarki, the counsel for Hussain.
Faisal Siddiqui, the counsel for the petitioners, had earlier argued that 13 orders had been passed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and even bans were slapped on Hussain a number of times, but all in vain, adding that Hussain should 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 the "father of India", "son of India", etc, while in another he had described the owner of the Jang Group and Najam Sethi as Indian agents.
One of the petitions accused Hussain of labelling the petitioners ghaddar (traitors) and gustakh (disrespectful) in his show “Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga”.
“The contemnor continuously abuses his power as a media person,” the petition contended, adding that time and again he had taken advantage of his position as a media person by making statements which were completely out of context and without any evidence.
The petitioners requested the apex court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against Hussain under Article 204 of the Constitution and under provisions of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003. The petition had also sought a restraining order against defaming the applicants by halting the broadcast of his television show.