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May 11, 2019

SHC bars three TV channels from telecasting news about professor

Top Story

May 11, 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Friday directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority council of complaints to look into the complaints of Karachi University and its associate professor against private TV channels and ensure compliance of the law and the regulations.

The direction came on the petition of Dr. Mohammad Osama Shafiq, who filed a petition seeking direction to PEMRA and council of complaints to decide KU and his complaints against three private TV channels for telecasting baseless and defamatory news and talk show at their respective programmes. In remarks the bench questioned if there is anyone to control the channels, who find it fit to humiliate any respectable person? The bench also expressed concern over the interview of a girl aired by a TV channel, asking if she appeared before the Registrar Karachi University. Are the TV channels proper fora to address grievances.

The petitioner, who was an associate professor in KU’s mass communication department, submitted in the petition that one student, Tehmas Ali Khan, of the department who had failed in three papers of the second semester pressurised him to pass him in papers which he refused. As a result, he threatened him of dire consequences and raised sectarian issue. He submitted that the KU Administration was intimated about the threat issued by the student on April 12 on the ground that student had aired a video message on WhatsApp wherein he leveled baseless allegations to malign him and created a political and sectarian issue and subsequently the office of the Student's Adviser KU had issued a show cause notice to the student against his unlawful action. He submitted that following the show cause incident, character assassination was started against him at behest of the student by telecasting defamatory programme in some private TV channels alleging that the KU teachers were involved in harassing their students.

The petitioner's counsel Ayaz Ahmed Ansari submitted that the private TV channels on the basis of false and baseless allegations without verifying or providing any opportunity to the petitioner and the KU to ascertain the truth about allegations telecasted news about harassing students. The counsel submitted that private TV channels telecasted news and talk show by scandalizing the KU and teachers at behest of student who was blackmailing the petitioner as he refused to pass him in three papers in which he failed. He submitted that respondents were causing continuous harassment and injury to the reputation by telecasting such news and talk shows wherein one sided version of the student was shown. He submitted that KU and the petitioner lodged complaints before PEMRA Council Of Complaints to take action against the private TV channels but the same was not decided yet. The counsel requested the court to restrain the student and the private TV channels from telecasting any news or conducting talk show against the petitioner. The bench remarked that it will seriously probe the issue. The bench remarked that if this is allowed to continue any student can initiate media trial of the teachers harming the respect and honour of the teachers. Does anyone have any control over the media?

The SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi issued pre-admission notice to the PEMRA, chairman COC, private TV channels and called their comments by May 27. The court in meantime restrained the three private TV channels from telecasting any news and talk shows against the petitioner. The court directed PEMRA and PEMRA’s Council Of Complaints to look into the matter and to ensure compliance of PEMRA laws and regulations in the instant matter. The court also directed the PEMRA to take action agaisnt the relevant channels. The bench also warned the student Tehmas Ali Khan not to issue any statements in this context.

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