Shutting down social media useless practice, remarks IHC CJ

Justice Minallah says authorities abusing power under PECA Act

By: News Desk      Published: 12:25 PM, 22 Nov, 2021
Shutting down social media useless practice, remarks IHC CJ
Representational image.

Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah has remarked there is no use to shut down all social media platforms in order to curb the objectionable material on them as world has progressed so much and restrictions will not do, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

The IHC has sought guidance from the amicus curiae to enlighten the court if the social media rules were not in conformity with the Constitution of Pakistan. 

The IHC was hearing petitions against social media rules on Monday. The court appointed Sadaf Baig, Nighat Daad, Fareeha Aziz, Rafeh Baloch, PFUJ and Pakistan Bar Council as amicus curiae.

Chief Justice Minallah asked the amicus curiae to assist the court in understanding whether the social media rules were against the spirit of constitution or not.

Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadood informed the court that as per IHC’s order, consultation was held with some stakeholders. Prime Minister Imran Khan has formed a committee headed by Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, he said adding that the committee consulted with more than 30 stakeholders. 

Wadood further told the court that the committee talked to the Facebook, Google, Twitter and other global forums. 

The annoyed chief justice remarked: “This is not a joke. We have to abide by the law but we are deviating.”

Justice Minallah said that the authorities were misusing their power under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (PECA) Act. “Where it is written that the authority must perform the moral policing,” the judge stated adding that the TikTok had been shut for a long time. 

On this, the AAG said that TikTok was restored. 

The judge inquired whether the rules formed by the authorities were according to the international procedure or not. 

The counsel for petitioners said there were so many objections over the new rules. 

The court wondered in which country the whole social media was put down on objectionable material. 

The AAG said as per his knowledge the same practice was being followed in Australia, European Union and other countries. 

The lawyer said according to the rules, the authority was empowered to determine which action could be regarded as contempt of court.

The CJ stated that this court had already decided that criticizing judge would not be considered as contempt of court. 

The petitioners’ lawyer held that rules were framed only after two consultative meetings. “How could the rules be in conformity with the internationally-adopted procedures,” he added. 

Justice Minallah remarked that the world had progressed rapidly so there was no use of restrictions. 

Reporter Ehtisham Kiyani