IHC seeks opinion on new social media rules

Appoints PFUJ, PBC, others as amicus curiae; adjourns hearing till Jan 6


Our Correspondent November 22, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday appointed amicus curiae and sought their opinion on new social media rules till January 6.

The court appointed Sadaf Baig, Nighat Daad, Fareeha Aziz, Rafay Baloch, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) as amicus curiae in the case.
The bench said it would view whether these rules were IN contradiction with Constitution or not.

Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadood apprised the bench that Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed had consulted several stakeholders in light of the directions of this court.

The prime minister, he said, had constituted a committee headed by Federal Minister Shireen Mazari, which held consultations with more than 30 stakeholders including Facebook, Twitter, Google and others.

Read IHC seeks reply from PTA over ban on TikTok

Chief Justice Athar Minallah observed that how an authority could do moral policing, adding that

TikTok had been blocked for a long time.

The AAG said TikTok had been restored again. The IHC chief justice said, “It is not a joke. We have to abide by the law which is not happening."

The chief justice remarked that institutions were misusing powers under the PECA Act.
He questioned whether the new rules were made according to international standards.

The petitioners' lawyer said there were several objections on the new social media rules.

Justice Minallah asked whether it would be right to block the whole social media application on the basis of a few controversial contents.

The AAG said according to his information, the same way was being adopted in several countries including Australia, European Union and others.

Under the new rules, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) was given authority to identify the contempt of court contents.

The court asked whether he knew the difference between freedom of expression and contempt of court.
Justice Minallah remarked a criticism on a judge didn't fall under contempt of court. The lawyer said the rules were finalised only after two meeting, adding that how could it meet international standards?

The court adjourned further hearing till January 6.
 

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