The High Court has appointed six legal experts as amicus curiae (friend of court) to give their opinions on the issue of banning Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera in Bangladesh and the removal of a recent report from online platforms.
The HC bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah passed the order after hearing a writ petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer Enamul Kabir Emon. It also fixed 15 February for the next hearing.
The six amicus curiae are – former law minister Abdul Matin Khasru, former attorney generals AJ Mohammad Ali and Fida M Kamal, senior lawyers Prabir Niyogi and Kamalul Alam, and constitutional expert Dr Shahdeen Malik.
During Wednesday's hearing, the court expressed discontent at the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission's inaction after the report titled "All the Prime Minister's Men" had been broadcast.
It said millions of people around the world had already watched Al Jazeera's report. The BTRC did nothing despite having the power to block objectionable broadcasts, and now a move was taken to shoot the gun from the court's shoulder, the HC bench said.
"Now it does not matter whether it is removed or not."
The writ petition was filed on Monday seeking measures to remove Al Jazeera's report from all online platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
The secretary of the posts, telecommunications and information technology ministry, the BTRC chairman and the inspector general of police, among others, were made respondents to the petition.
The Qatar-based news channel broadcast the report on 1 February.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry in a statement labelled the report as part of a "false, defamatory and a politically-motivated smear campaign".
The Bangladesh Army Headquarters also strongly denounced the investigative report, saying it was a move to damage the harmony between different government organs.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Saturday said Bangladesh was preparing to sue Al Jazeera for broadcasting the report with misinformation.