Writ on Al Jazeera

HC appoints six amici curiae

Staff Correspondent

11 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The High Court has appointed six senior lawyers as amici curiae asking them to clarify whether it should hear a writ petition filed seeking ban on broadcast of Al Jazeera news channel which covered a report maligning Bangladesh government and army chief.

A division bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah passed the order on Wednesday, following a writ petition

filed by Barrister Anamul Kabir Emon, a lawyer of the apex court.

Six amici curiae are former attorney general AJ Mohammad Ali, former attorney general Fida M Kamal, Dr Shahdeen Malik, advocate Abdul Matin Khasru, advocate Kamal Ul Alam and advocate Prabir Neogi.

They are to clarify whether the High Court will hear the write petition filed seeking decision on removal of the contents of Al Jazeera report titled "All the Prime Minister's Men" from digital platforms.

The HC requested the six legal experts to submit their opinions before it on February 15.

The court questioned prima facie merit of the writ as petitioner did not serve any notice to the government authorities concerned expressing his contention.

The court asked the writ petitioner Md Anamul Kabir Emon why he has been personally aggrieved by the report titled "Al the Prime Minister's Men" aired by Al Jazeera and whether this court can direct the government to stop broadcasting of an international TV channel.

The HC said crores of viewers have already watched the documentary and removing the content will not have any positive impact.

Al Jazeera report has damaged images of the President, Prime Minister and Army Chief and hurt sentiment of the nation, observed the court. The HC bench questioned as to what Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and others have done to this effect.

Earlier, on February 1, Al Jazeera broadcast a report titled ‘All the Prime Minister’s Men.’  Bangladesh government rejected the report. The petition was filed on February 8.

Replying to a query by the court, petitioner claimed to have filed the writ being aggrieved with Al Jazeera's report.

Deputy Attorney General Nawroz MR Chowdhury said BTRC should have removed the contents of the Al Jazeera report from online platforms.

Al Jazeera transmission should be blocked in Bangladesh because it may come up with follow-up report in future, he added.

Opposing the above argument, Reza-e-Rakib, counsel for BTRC, argued that his client has no capacity to prevent Al Jazeera from broadcasting report.

However, he said the BTRC is capable of issuing notice to the authorities concerned to remove contents of the Al Jazeera report from the social media.