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IHC requests report from Inter-Ministerial Committee on Social Media Rules – Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: The High Court of Islamabad (IHC) on Friday requested the report of the inter-ministerial committee formed to review social media rules.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, while hearing identical petitions filed against the implementation of the removal and blocking of illegal online content (procedure, monitoring and guarantees), Rules 2020 appreciated the initiative of prime ministers to constitute the high-level committee and requested the report within a month. .

Prime Minister Imran Khan had established a five-member high-level inter-ministerial committee under the leadership of Federal Minister of Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, with Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice Maleeka Ali Bukhari, the Senator Syed Ali Zafar, Secretary of Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui and Chairman of Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) withdrew Major General Amir Azeem Bajwa from their membership.

A statement released by Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan’s office earlier this week said: The Information Technology and Telecommunications Division will function as the committee’s secretariat and the committee will submit its report with recommendations on the matter to the Prime Minister within a period of 30 days.

The committee will begin its work and the secretariat will inform the general public of the date and location of the consultations with all stakeholders, including the petitioners who filed the petition in the High Court in Islamabad (IHC).

Justice Minallah expressed the hope that the committee would consider stakeholder suggestions and objections before finalizing the report.

The Chief Justice asked the Attorney General if he was part of the committee, the GA replied that a prominent lawyer Syed Ali Zafar is a member of the committee and the Attorney General’s office is also available to the said assistance committee. legal. .

A lawyer for the petitioner pointed out that there were no members of the opposition parties and that the committee will prepare a unilateral report.

The attorney general said it was possible to involve the opposition in the committee, but due to fear that this would further delay the case, the committee is made up of members of the treasury benches.

Justice Minallah advised legal counsel to wait for the committee’s report before raising objections.

The continuation of the hearing of the petitions has been postponed to May 10.

The petitioners in this case are the General Secretary of the Federal Union of Journalists of Pakistan (PFUJ), Nasir Zaidi, the Awami Workers’ Party, the Dawns Employees Union, Amber Rahim Shamsi and a citizen Mohammad Ashfaq Jatt who have challenged these rules, claiming that they are contrary to constitutionally guaranteed expression.

According to the petitions, the implementation of the removal and blocking of illegal online content (procedure, monitoring and guarantees), the 2020 rules will inevitably lead to a violation of the rights to livelihoods and the freedom of trade and profession, guaranteed to citizens under Articles 9 and 18 of the Constitution.

Posted in Dawn on April 3, 2021

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