ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) decided on Monday to review whether the new social media laws were unconstitutional.
The IHC heard petitions against social media rules and decided to review the new rules, appointing experts and assistants. The court also asked the parties concerned for reports within a month.
The court-appointed Sadaf Baig, Nighat Dad, Fareeha Aziz, Rafi Baloch, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), and Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) as assistants. The court would review social media rules under international standards.
The assistants have been asked to comment on whether social media rules were in line with international practices.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah told the additional attorney general that the new rules had been notified and it was to be seen that they were not against the constitution and law.
“Do you know the relationship between freedom of expression and contempt of court?” the judge asked. “Contempt of court is only when there is an attempt to influence the delivery of justice.”
Furthermore, the court asked the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) lawyer why had the authority first banned and then unbanned the social media app TikTok.
“This court was not satisfied with the why it was banned. Thank you for complying with the law,” the court remarked. “The world has come a long way, and banning does not solve the problem,” he added.
Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadud provided the details of the consultation with stakeholders on social media roles.
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had formed an advisory committee comprising Dr. Shirin Mazari, Maleeka Bukhari, and others, that had 19 meetings with 30 stakeholders and each party was heard in full.
“Then we also released the social media rules on the website,” the AAG added.
National and international stakeholders were also been consulted, he claimed, adding that companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter were also being consulted.
The court adjourned the hearing till January 6, 2022.