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'Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga': SC directs Bol News to respond to Pemra's show-cause notice

'Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga': SC directs Bol News to respond to Pemra's show-cause notice

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, upholding the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority's (Pemra) ban on Bol News programme 'Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga' hosted by Amir Liaquat, directed the channel's management to respond to a show-cause notice issued to it for flouting the ban.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, set aside a Sindh High Court-issued stay order against Pemra's ban on Liaquat's show.

Pemra had banned Liaquat's programme after he levelled allegations of blasphemy against civil society activists and bloggers. Pemra, in a notification, remarked that Liaquat had used derogatory words "which cannot be repeated".

The notification added that usage of such language is "a violation" of several clauses and rules of the Pemra Ordinance and its code of conduct.

Bol News flouted the ban and proceeded with broadcasting the banned programme the day the ban was imposed, after which Pemra issued a show-cause notice to the media group for defying its order to stop airing the programme 'Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga', and keep its host Amir Liaquat off air.

Read more: 'Aisay Nahi Chalay Ga': Pemra slaps ban on Amir Liaquat after 'hate speech' on Bol News

In the show-cause notice, the regulatory body had directed the channel's chief executive officer to submit its response by Febuary 7, 2017.

Pemra had noted that if the channel failed to defend itself, the authority had the "powers to suspend the programme under section 27 of Pemra rules, impose a fine of up to one million rupees under section 29, suspend the license of the channel under section 30 or cancel the license of the channel under section 30".

The Sindh High Court (SHC), hearing a petition filed by Bol News against Pemra, issued a stay order against the ban, even as Pemra issued a show-cause notice to the media organisation for violating the ban.

Following the SHC ruling, Pemra petitioned the apex court against the stay order.

In today's hearing, the apex court instructed Bol News to respond to the notices against it while ordering Pemra to decide upon the matter in accordance with the law.

The apex court today also revived an earlier show-cause notice issued by Pemra to Bol News for not having security clearance for its directors from the Interior Ministry.

Justice Muslim observed that issuing a stay against the orders of a regulatory authority is against the law, and that the stay seemed to have been obtained in order to pressure Pemra.

The court stated that Bol News had no legal grounds to challenge Pemra's ban in a court of law without appealing against the decision first.

The court said Bol News should only direct its objections towards the Sindh High Court if it is not satisfied with Pemra's decision, and directed the high court to reach a decision only after hearing the arguments of both parties.

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