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Friday July 19, 2024

Private channel ordered to issue apology to Asma Shirazi

Court states in verdict that Shirazi is entitled to claim damages as TV channel irrelevantly used her picture

By Awais Yousafzai
December 04, 2023
Senior Pakistani journalist Asma Shirazi. — Instagram/@asmashiraziofficial
Senior Pakistani journalist Asma Shirazi. — Instagram/@asmashiraziofficial

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has slapped Rs50,000 damages on a private TV channel, directing it to broadcast an apology to senior journalist Asma Shirazi for airing defamatory news content against her.

"The court is of the view that editorial side and the airing committee of the licensee/respondent No.3 [the TV channel] is not vigilant enough that picture of the appellant was wrongly placed along with the news content, when she has nothing to do with that particular news item on aired by respondent No.3 [...]," the high court verdict on Shirazi's appeal stated. 

IHC's Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani issued the verdict today (Monday).  

The journalist had appealed the  Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority's (Pemra) Council of Complaints decision of December 21, 2022 on her complaint against the TV channel's misreporting. 

"The facts were deliberately concocted to make the viewers’ believe that the appellant’s journalism was criticised during the [SC] proceedings," the journalist had contended in her appeal against the TV channel.

Shirazi mentioned that the Pemra body declared her complaint against the TV channel non-maintainable, noting that "no legal point had been made by the complainant in the instant matter as proper forum for defamation was available" to her.

In its verdict, the IHC stated that the Pemra laws bind TV channels to broadcast the news and reports in the right way.

It added that Shirazi is entitled to damages, however, quantification is not the job of this court to assess damages when nothing has been suggested on record.

The court allowed her appeal and deemed that nominal damages of Rs50,000 be awarded in favour of the appellant along with the direction to the TV channel "to broadcast an apology for their action of news [...] for clarity of general public".

It also stated that Shirazi still has the right to approach the competent court to seek damages under defamation law.