LAHORE: The Lahore High Court will take up the matter of reopening YouTube on March 11 and not next week, as was promised last week.
A division bench of the LHC on February 25 had announced that the matter would be heard next week when Minister of Information Technology Anushay Rehman would also bring her reply and the state’s response on the matter.
Counsel for Bytes for All, Advocate Yasser Latif Hamdani, had told the court that the government had been using delaying tactics and requested direction on the matter. To which a member of the bench replied, “Just one week Mr Yasser”.
However the cause list, issued by the LHC administration, listing cases fixed for next week does not include a hearing on the YouTube ban.
Bytes for All, an NGO, had challenged the ban on YouTube. The petitioner had said that any filtering or blocking on the internet is counterproductive and predatory.
The petitioner had sought directions to the Ministry of Information Technology and the PTA to reopen the website. He said taking away access to YouTube access is the modern equivalent of taking away the scholar’s pen.
The website had been blocked by former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. Since then, various segments of the society have demanded restoration of access to the website. Ashraf had imposed the ban after YouTube refused to remove an ‘offensive’ film, The Innocence of the Muslims, from its website.
Last week, the LHC issued a notice to the federal and provincial governments and Fortress Stadium Management (FSM) on a petition challenging the legitimacy of a five-storey shopping mall at Fortress Stadium.
Petitioner Nayyer Khan, a journalist, said the 60,942 square feet Shopping Mall Complex at Fortress Stadium had been constructed in violation of rules and relevant provisions of the law. He said the land belonged to the federal government but the FSM had leased it to DUPAK Developers Pakistan on October 27, 2007, for 33 years to construct a plaza on it at very low rates. He said the agreement declared the Pakistan Army to be the sole owner of the land, when in fact, he said, it belonged to the federal government. The government had given the Ministry of Defence occupancy of the land. He said the 114th brigade’s headquarters were on that land, but the HQ had been razed to construct the plaza.
The LHC will take up the matter of the demolition of Lady Willingdon Hospital this week. It will hear petitions by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Dr Yasmin Rashid and the Young Doctors’ Association. The court had granted them stay against the government’s plan to demolish a portion of the hospital to build a flyover at Azadi Chowk.
Christian Divorce Act
The Christian Divorce Act 1869 was challenged before the Lahore High Court last week and termed insulting to women. Petitioner Ameen Masih said according to the Christian Divorce Act 1869, a Christian man could only divorce his wife for committing adultery. He said the Act needed to be amended as it infringed upon the fundamental rights of Christians.
Last week, LHC Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial refused to accept a plea to stop the government from launching a military operation against the Taliban. Justice Bandial had said it was a policy matter and courts could not interfere in such matters. The issue of a surgical operation came to the fore during the hearing of a petition seeking directions to the federal government to hold talks with the Taliban and allow them to open an office in the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2014.
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