IHC Grants Conditional Approval To Air Controversial Television Drama 'Hadsa'

Court says if an episode contains a scene depicting rape, it should not be rebroadcast, seeks report on appointment of members to Pemra's council of complaints

IHC Grants Conditional Approval To Air Controversial Television Drama 'Hadsa'

A television serial, 'Hadsa' -- based on the real-life rape of a woman on the highway -- has been granted conditional permission to broadcast by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday. 

The producers and directors of the show had moved the court against the decision of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which had imposed a ban on broadcasting the show.

The ban was imposed on August 30 after the victim, in the real-life case, objected to her portrayal without seeking consent, adding that it was equivalent to revictimising her.

During the hearing on Tuesday, the court summoned the drama's director Wajahat Rauf, and producers Rauf and Shazia Wajahat. They were asked about the rape scene in episode five. 

The court ruled that the directors and producers of the show should ensure that the rape scene should not be rebroadcast. 

The court then suspended the August 30 notification of Pemra and allowed it to be broadcast.

The order further ruled that Pemra had suspended the show without first hearing its producers and that the petitioners suffered heavy losses.

The court further ruled that per the Pemra laws, the government must set up the council of complaints. In this regard, the court directed the Federal Information Secretary to submit a comprehensive report on the appointment of members for the Council of Complaints (CoC).

The serial is based on an incident which took place on September 9, 2020, near Lahore, where a woman travelling alone on the motorway encountered car trouble. As she sought help on the highway, she was assaulted and raped. 

When she saw the drama and saw the similarities between her life and the incident, she took to social media to state how her consent was never sought, and she was retvictimised.