Home Global Village IHC orders halting of TV shows ‘promoting obscenity, indecency’ in Ramazan

IHC orders halting of TV shows ‘promoting obscenity, indecency’ in Ramazan

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered to put an end to the airing of programmes like 'Neelam Ghar' and those "appearing to be like a circus show" for the duration of the holy month of Ramzan. 

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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered to put an end to the airing of programmes like ‘Neelam Ghar’ and those “appearing to be like a circus show” for the duration of the holy month of Ramzan.  Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui was hearing a case on the implementation of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) code of conduct for Ramazan transmissions and morning shows.

Justice Siddiqui had also warned several popular television hosts — including Dr. Amir Liaquat, Sahir Lodhi, Fahad Mustafa and Waseem Badami — to maintain decorum during Ramazan transmissions and morning shows during the holy month, or ‘to face a ban for life’.

“Dr. Amir Liaquat introduced the culture of romping around [during Ramazan transmissions] and all others have started imitating him,” he observed. “We will not allow such things in sehr and iftar transmissions,” he said.

Read more: Judicial control on television content questions PEMRA’s efficacy

Dr. Amir is known for his shows during Ramzan on different TV channels. A large number of people are invited to these shows and prizes are distributed among those who manage to win games in the show.

According to the short order of the IHC, “It is [the] responsibility of the State to provide an atmosphere in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. As such indecency, morality and obscenity of any kind and nature is against the injunctions of Islam and offensive to guarantees provided by the organic law of the country i.e. the Constitution.”

Justice Siddiqui further ordered that “no programme suggestive of containing lottery and gambling, even apparently for a noble purpose like Haj/Umrah tickets etc, shall be promoted to air either live or recorded.”

The court stated that: “No activity in [an] individual or collective capacity of any citizen can be allowed which is against the glory of Islam, integrity, security or defense of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court.”

The short order of the Court

According to the short order of the IHC, “It is [the] responsibility of the State to provide an atmosphere in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. As such indecency, morality and obscenity of any kind and nature is against the injunctions of Islam and offensive to guarantees provided by the organic law of the country i.e. the Constitution.”

“All law enforcing agencies and regulatory bodies are under statutory obligations to ensure that no activity prejudicial to the glory of Islam and the Constitution is permitted, individually or collectively on electronic or print media,” it added.

Read more: CJP’s intervention for independent PEMRA is a ray of hope for…

The court also directed the Information Ministry, Interior Ministry, and Pemra to ensure the following:

  • “Complete ban on advertisements, dramas and films of foreign origin, India in particular.”
  • “10% of foreign TV contents which is permissible as per rules shall be allowed to be aired, subject to approval by the committee consisting of secretaries noted above and the chairman Pemra. The committee shall ensure that contents proposed to be aired are not in conflict with the injunctions of Islam, Constitution, Pemra laws, code of conduct and judgements of the superior courts of the country.”
  • “No programme shall be aired [in Ramazan] resulting in disrupting the spirit of this holy month. Ramazan being month of Holy Quran should be observed in promoting the meanings and message of Quran in vernacular languages.”
  • All TV channels should broadcast the call to prayer five times a day.
  • No advertisements can be aired at least five minutes prior to the breaking of the fast. Instead, Durood Sharif and dua“must be offered for the solidarity, prosperity, peace and tranquility of Pakistan, well-being of all citizens and promotion of tolerance, forgiveness, sacrifices and acceptance of prayers.”
  • It is expected of all channels and licensees of Pemra “that [the] respect and spirit of the holy month of Ramazan is not compromised by any host or guest, either through appearance, or any act or words spoken”.

The committee was ordered to file a report on the implementation of court directives upon completion of the first 10 days of Ramazan.

Read more: PEMRA bans Valentine’s Day celebration on all media

State’s responsibility to provide an atmosphere in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam

Justice Siddiqui has rightly remarked that it is the responsibility of the state to ensure the implementation of Islamic principles and provision of an atmosphere in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam. Pakistan is an Islamic state and the constitution of 1973 ensures that all measures shall be taken to provide all facilities to the people (Muslims) of Pakistan to spend their lives according to the teachings of Islam.

But many points made by Justice Siddiqui are unclear and have no clear direction. For example, “complete ban on advertisements, dramas and films of foreign origin, India in particular,” is not something very appreciable, particularly when viewed through the prism of the trends and dynamics of the 21st-century globalized world. In a highly interconnected world, it is almost not possible to remain in complete isolation to ensure the protection of one’s own identity. Similarly, saying “no programme shall be aired [in Ramazan] resulting in disrupting the spirit of this holy month,” does not specify as to what actually disturb the sprout of the holy month? What is the criterion to determine that disturbance?

Furthermore, the court’s order reads as “it is expected of all channels and licensees of Pemra “that [the] respect and spirit of the holy month of Ramazan is not compromised by any host or guest, either through appearance, or any act or words spoken,” yet it does not specify as to how a particular appearance can be disrespectful?

Read more: PEMRA and the fate of Indian shows

As a matter of fact, Justice Siddiqui’s order needs clarity and elaboration in order to be properly understood and implemented.


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