IHC appoints aides in social media rules case

Published November 23, 2021
This file photo shows the Islamabad High Court. — IHC website/File
This file photo shows the Islamabad High Court. — IHC website/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) on Monday appointed representatives of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and digital media experts as amici curiae in a case related to social media rules.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked digital media experts Sadaf Baig, Nighat Dad, Fareeha Aziz, Rafay Baloch and representatives of the PBC and the PFUJ to apprise the court whether the social media rules were contradictory to the constitutional provisions or not.

Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadud informed the court that the attorney general had consulted the stakeholders on the social media rules as per the court’s directives.

He said that the Prime Minister Imran Khan had constituted a committee, headed by federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, to review the social media rules which had held consultative sessions with over 30 stakeholders. The committee had also held discussions with managements of leading social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and other international forums in connection with the rules, he added.

“Where on earth an authority conducts moral policing,” questioned Justice Minallah.

Referring to recent ban on short video sharing application TikTok, he asked for what reason the app had been suspended in Pakistan.

Mr Wadud told the court that ban on TikTok had been lifted.

The IHC Chief Justice remarked that imposing ban on social network applications was not a permanent solution and prima facie the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority misused the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act.

Justice Minallah asked whether the recent social media rules had been framed in accordance with the best international practice.

The counsel for the petitioner claimed that numerous objections had been raised against the new social media rules.

The additional attorney general said that as per his knowledge, some European countries and Australia had suspended social media applications over non-conformity of the rules.

The court asked the amici curiae to review the social media rules and submit a report.

Further hearing in this matter has been adjourned till Jan 6.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2021

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