SC takes notice of 'objectionable content' on YouTube, other social media platforms

Published July 22, 2020
The Supreme Court on Wednesday took notice of "objectionable content" on YouTube and other social media and issued notices to the Foreign Office and the Attorney General in this regard.  — AFP/File
The Supreme Court on Wednesday took notice of "objectionable content" on YouTube and other social media and issued notices to the Foreign Office and the Attorney General in this regard. — AFP/File

The Supreme Court on Wednesday took notice of "objectionable content" being shared on YouTube and other social media platforms, and issued notices to the Foreign Office and the Attorney General in this regard.

A three-member bench, comprising Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Aminud Din Khan, took notice during a hearing on a bail petition of a man accused of a sectarian crime.

During the hearing, Justice Amin remarked that the public had a right to comment on the judiciary's performance and judgements but social media "did not even spare their families and shamed the judges".

"They become 'uncles' on social media and incite people against the Pakistan Army, judiciary and government," he said, adding that the judiciary "has no objection to the right to freedom of speech".

"Our salaries come from the public's money, [but] the Constitution gives us the right to our private lives."

Justice Amin said that the top court had announced a judgement on a case a day earlier which was then discussed on YouTube. "We are showing patience [but] this has to come to an end."

Read: Could it happen again? Remembering Pakistan's Facebook, YouTube ban

Justice Amin questioned whether the Federal Investigation Agency and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had seen what was happening on YouTube. "There are several countries where YouTube is banned. Try uploading content against America and the European Union," he said.

Justice Alam observed that "many countries control social media through local laws".

PTA authorities, present in court, replied that they could not remove "individual content but could only report it".

Following notices to the AG and Foreign office, the hearing was adjourned for an indefinite period.

The top court last week took suo motu notice of an alleged contemptuous tweet by journalist Mateeullah Jan. A Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Alam and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, had issued notices to the attorney general, Jan and president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. During today's hearing, Jan was given more time to submit his reply.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court formally charged Rawalpindi-based cleric Mirza Iftikharuddin with contempt of court by delivering a derogatory and scandalous speech against the judiciary which went viral on social media.

The court indicted the cleric under Section 5 of the Contempt of the Court Ordinance 2003 after rejecting his unconditional apology he tendered for making an objectionable speech in a private meeting in which he had hurled abusive language at Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court as well as the institution of judiciary.

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