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IHC directs channel to broadcast apology to journalist

By Awais Yousafzai
December 05, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday directed a private TV channel to issue an apology and pay Rs50,000 damages to senior journalist Asma Shirazi for defamatory reporting against her.

The verdict on Shirazi’s appeal against the December 21, 2022 verdict of the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) Council of Complaints, was issued by IHC’s Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani. 

A view of the Islamabad High Court building. — Geo News/File
A view of the Islamabad High Court building. — Geo News/File 

“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 verdict stated.

“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.