The High Court has directed the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to take steps immediately to remove the Al Jazeera report titled "All the Prime Minister's Men" aired on 1 February from all online platforms at home and abroad.
The virtual High Court bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah passed the order on Wednesday following a writ petition seeking directives on removal of the report and stopping broadcast of the Qatar-based television station in Bangladesh.
Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Enamul Kabir Emon had filed the writ petition on 8 February.
The secretaries to the posts and telecommunications ministry and the information and technology ministry, the BTRC chairman, the inspector general of police and others concerned were made respondents in the petiton.
Attorney General AM Amin Uddin appeared for the state in the court while Barrister Reza-E-Rakib was in favour of the BTRC and Barrister Enamul Kabir Emon for the petitioner.
Barrister Emon told The Business Standard that the court gave the removal order of the report from online platforms, but it did not comment on the petition seeking orders to stop Al Jazeera's transmission in Bangladesh.
The court may give an observation in this regard in its full written order, he said.
On 9 February, the High Court appointed six amici curiae to get their opinions on the writ petition. Five of them told the court on 15 February that the petition was not admissible.
They are former attorneys general AJ Mohammad Ali and Fida M Kamal, senior lawyers Kamal Ul Alam, Prabir Niyogi and Shahdeen Malik.
Another amicus curiae Abdul Matin Khasru, former law minister, said the writ could continue and that the High Court could order the closure of Al Jazeera's transmission in Bangladesh.
BTRC DG (Systems and Services Division) Brig Gen Md Nasim Parvez, told TBS, "We will take action as soon as we get the court order. However, before receiving a copy of the order, we will be initially informed about it through an email."
He said all online platforms such as Facebook and YouTube are bound to comply with the rules and regulations of the Bangladesh government.
"Hopefully they will take action in compliance with our steps," added Nasim.
Sedition case against four including Al Jazeera DG
A sedition case against four people, including Al Jazeera's Director General Mostefa Souag, and Zulkarnain Sami, an accomplice, was filed with the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Court on Wednesday for publishing the anti-state and anti-government report on Bangladesh.
Bangabandhu Foundation president Abdul Malek filed the case.
The court would pass the order on it today (Thursday).
The other accused in the case are Tasneem Khalil, editor of Netra News, and David Bergman, a journalist living in the UK.
According to the case statement, the accused are involved in anti-state activities by spreading propaganda in the international arena against the Bangladesh government.
They jointly created a fabricated report with the help of their anonymous collaborators and published it on the night of 1 February which was widely circulated on YouTube and other online and printed newspapers the next day.
They cooked up the documentary by using only pictures of certain personal family events and interviews without making any specific and explicit statements and without presenting data or documents and thus are spreading propaganda all over the world through Al Jazeera television and YouTube.