LONDON – Pakistan’s leading television channel ARY has been asked to air its dirty laundry in public by telecasting the summary of judgement in defamation case that it lost against Geo.
At a legal hearing in London on Wednesday, Judge Sir David Eady ruled that the summary should be broadcasted on Dec 23 (Friday) at 6pm, 10pm and 3am in the first five minutes of each hour. To add insult to injury, not only will the words have to be displayed on a screen, they will also have to be read out.
So, going by the latest decision, ARY would now become Pakistan’s first television channel to broadcast the summary of a legal judgement against it and would categorically air these words:
“On Dec 2, 2016, the High Court of Justice ordered the UK broadcaster of ARY News to pay £185,000 in libel damages to Mir Shakilur Rehman, the Editor-in-Chief of Jang/Geo Group, in relation to seriously defamatory allegations broadcast in 24 programmes which the judge said simply had no foundation. The court held that the broadcasts were unrelenting and calculated to arouse hatred towards Mir Shakilur Rehman (and indeed quite possibly violence) among members of the Pakistani community in this jurisdiction.”
ARY’s misery would not culminate here as the channel would clarify on its screen that there was no evidence to support the claims and that during the trial, ARY Network made it clear they did not suggest that any of the allegations were true.
ARY has also appealed against the decision and a favourable result in this regard could prove to be a face-saving exit for the channel.
On the other hand, the media magnate and Chief Executive Officer of Geo News Mir Ibrahim Rehman taunted ARY by suggesting that now it would air one factual story about Geo.
“I am glad that ARY will now finally broadcast one true story about us, I am proud that rather than replying in kind, the largest media group in the country resorted to the rule of law instead. We sued ARY in over 15 cases in Pakistan and one case in the UK,” he said.
The latest ruling is a second major blow to ARY after it was ordered on December 2 to pay a hefty £185,000 for libelling Geo’s Chief Executive Mir Shakilur Rehman. The money has to be paid by 4.30pm on Jan 4 next year.
When legal costs are taken into account ARY’s total bill is likely to swell to £3m and of that amount, £900,000 has to be paid by 4.30pm on Jan 11.
It all began with a case in UK’s court when Lawyers for Mir Shakilur Rehman identified ARY programmes in which he had been libelled between 2013 and 2014. The broadcasts included repeated claims that he was a traitor to Pakistan. ARY in its programs and news reports went a mile more and apparently accused him of blasphemy or desecration of the holy Quran.
However, after a series of hearings, the court ordered in favour of Geo and slapped ARY with a heavy fine.
The judge in the case, Justice Sir David Eady found that Geo’s boss Mir Shakil was “singled out for persistent abuse over a year-long period.”
Although ARY honoured its senior employer and media stalwart Mubashir Lucman during his affiliation with the channel but in court ARY’s counsels argued that Mubashir was known for his clumsy remarks and that reasonable viewers looked unfazed about the stories by him, as Mubashir was the first to hurl accusations at Shakil.
In addition, Mubashir Lucman has also written a book named ‘Khara Sach’ in which he has accused Mir Shakil Ur Rehman of committing multiple crimes. He dubbed Mir Shakil as ‘Baba Jee’ in his book and tv shows.
The core reason behind pursuing the case in UK was the fact that ARY, like many other Urdu-language Pakistani channels, was available in the UK via satellite. The network currently operates channels in the UK.
The full judgement is available here: http://www.carter ruck.com/images/uploads/documents/Judgment-Rahman-V-ARY-021216%20.pdf