Motorway rape case drama allowed airing with conditions

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The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has conditionally permitted the broadcast of the TV serial ‘Hadsa,’ which depicts the story of a rape victim. The serial, which started airing on Geo TV in August, had been banned by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) based on a complaint that it was related to the 2020 motorway gang rape case. The show’s producers denied this allegation.

During the recent court proceedings, the counsel for the TV channel argued that Pemra had issued the ban without granting the applicant a right to a hearing or serving a show-cause notice.

In response, the lawyer for Pemra stated that the broadcast had been restricted because the serial replicated the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway gang rape incident and portrayed a negative image of Pakistani citizens. The lawyer argued that Pemra was empowered under Section 27 of the Pemra Ordinance to issue a prohibitory order and refer the matter to its Council of Complaints for recommendations.

After hearing the arguments, the court suspended Pemra’s prohibitory order but requested an undertaking from the producers not to air the controversial scene in the fifth episode.

In its order, the court noted that while the Pemra Ordinance empowered the authority to issue a prohibition order with reasons, the authority did not provide the right to a hearing before passing the order, which is mandated by Article 10-A of the Constitution.

The producers assured the court that the rape scene, shown in the fifth episode, was portrayed in a manner consistent with the accepted standards of decency recognized in Pakistani society.


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