Meesha Shafi

Singer Meesha Shafi wins initial defamation trial against UK channel

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London: Famous Pakistani rock star Meesha Shafi has won the first part of her defamation case against British broadcaster ARY—New Vision TV Limited (NVTV)—after a preliminary hearing at the High Court in London revealed that she had been mistreated by the broadcaster. top level. Levels has been defamed on several shows in connection with her harassment case against singer Ali Zafar.

Shafi, who has some of Pakistan’s biggest hits to her credit, sued NVTV in London after the channel accused her of failing to comply with a Pakistani court’s orders by coming from Canada to Pakistan to record songs to take from Coke Studio and then returning to Canada instead of attending court for two years in the defamation case filed by Zafar in the Lahore court.

During the December 5, 2020 broadcast, the channel aired footage of Shafi alone and with Zafar, video sequences of Zafar followed by footage of Shafi in a recording studio, footage of a court ruling, videos of the Sessions Court complex in Lahore, and footage of tweets, one of which looked like this. What was insulting was that he compared Shafi to an animal who mocked and ridiculed her.

The famous star based his claim on three separate but similar broadcasts in which numerous viewers repeated defamatory statements. One paragraph read: “Singer Meesha Shafi quietly arrives in Pakistan. Instead of appearing in court, she recorded songs in the studio and returned to Canada. The court had summoned Meesha Shafi for two years following allegations of defamation against her by singer-actor Ali Zafar. Although she returned to Pakistan from Canada, she recorded songs in the studio and returned to Canada instead of appearing in court. The Lahore Sessions Court had summoned Meesha Shafi along with her witnesses.

In April 2018, at the height of the global #MeToo movement, Canadian artist Shafi Zafar made multiple allegations of sexual harassment of a physical nature on social media during their friendship and musical collaborations. Their accusations took Pakistan by storm, and both have been embroiled in legal battles ever since. Zafar denies these accusations. The famous singer was not part of the trial and had nothing to do with the British civil case.

After a hearing, Judge Johnson of the Royal Courts of Justice explained that the comments broadcast were statements of fact and meant: “Over two years, court orders were issued requiring the complainant (Meesha Shafi) to appear in Pakistan.” court for the subject of defamation proceedings. The complainant was aware of the orders but did not comply with them. She traveled from Canada to Pakistan, and instead of complying with court orders as authorities demanded, she deliberately ignored them. She recorded a song and then returned to Canada.

In his ruling, the judge said the TV station’s subsequent comments “brought the court’s orders into oblivion,” went beyond what the parties had stated, and meant that Meesha Shafi had deliberately ignored the court’s orders.

The judge added that there may be certain circumstances where it is not defamatory at common law to allege that a person has failed to comply with court orders, such as where a party has failed to number court documents as required by the court. However, in this case, the judge said that the channel had indicated that famous singer and activist Meesha Shafi had failed to comply with a court order for an extended period, which was not technical but fundamental, as a party had to do. to appear in court.

The judge ruled that this was defamation of the singer who shook up the South Asian charts with her hits such as Jugni (Alif Allah), Dasht-e-Tanhai, Aya Lariye, Boom Boom, Hot Mango Chutney Sauce, Muaziz Saarif, and several others.

Both sides sued based on the principles of the defamation case that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, editor-in-chief of Geo and Jang, built and won against ARY when it came to difficulties in reviewing foreign language programs.

Shafi’s lawyer, David Lemer of Doughty Street Chambers, who won Media Box of the Year at this year’s Chambers and Partners Bar Awards, told the court that Shafi was a very prominent Pakistani-Canadian personality and well known.

The court heard that the music icon’s career spanned more than two decades and included modeling, acting, and music, and that she had a large fan base in Britain and around the world.

The lawyer told the judge that the programs portray Shafi as someone who does not comply with the legal requirements set by the court and repeatedly engages in this behavior. He said such a statement would lower Shafi’s rating among right-thinking people in general. It is inconsistent with the shared values ​​of our society for people to knowingly ignore court orders requiring their presence for an extended period.

The lawyer said the broadcast gave the impression that Zafar was right and that Shafi had fled the trial. Shafi has never violated any court order requiring him to appear in court, has always complied with the court’s opinions, and has participated in the entire legal process.

The judge ordered a new hearing to determine how the case should proceed in court.

Before Shafi won his case at the High Court in London, he filed a complaint with Pakistan’s media regulator, Pemra, which acted on his complaint. In this case, the star was represented by Nighat Dad, the lawyer, and his all-female legal team.

“Earlier, Meesha Shafi won her case against a private TV channel, PEMRA. The British court ruling shows how television channels have been waging malicious campaigns against them for years without accountability or respecting national laws. “The UK Supreme Court’s ruling shows that our country’s powerful television networks can easily ruin an individual’s public and private life without being held accountable for their actions,” Papa said.

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