Thursday May 12 2022

IHC refers PTI govt’s social media laws to NA for review

Islamabad High Court building. — IHC website
Islamabad High Court building. — IHC website

  • IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah suggests govt resolving matter through consultation with stakeholders. 
  • Observes those who opposed the laws in question are now in power.
  • Issues notices to PTA chairman, others

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday asked the National Assembly to review the rules framed by the PTI government concerning social media while directing to merge all the related petitions.

The directive was issued by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah during the hearing of PPP leader Farhatullah Babar’s petition on the matter.

The judge observed that since the government has changed and those who opposed the laws in question while sitting on the opposition benches are now in power.

"Wouldn’t it be better for the government to resolve the matter through consulting with the stakeholders?" he suggested.

During the hearing, Justice Minallah called Babar on the rostrum.

The judge remarked that as PPP is in power now, so it should rectify the rules.

Babar suggested referring the matter to the parliament, which would be a test for the present government. The CJ agreed, saying let the parliament look into the matter, and the court would consider the report once it was submitted. 

The court also issued notices to the chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, secretaries of the Cabinet Division and the Ministry of Information Technology.

The miscellaneous petition seeking to rescind the laws was filed by Usama Khawar on behalf of Babar on Wednesday.

Many stakeholders including Internet Service Providers of Pakistan (ISPAK) had rejected the rules introduced through the Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content Rules 2020 under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016.

The rules also attracted massive criticism for being "draconian."