The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued notices to the interior ministry and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to submit their replies to a petition challenging crackdown on social media activists.

A two-member bench of the high court asked the defendants to file their response till June 15.

Lately, the interior minister had announced to have launched a crackdown against social media activists for posting anti-state contents and maligning the national security institutions, the Pakistan army in particular.

Subsequently, the country’s top investigating agency was reported to have arrested some 41 people for allegedly posting anti-state contents on the social media sites. Of them some people belonged to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Zehra Yousuf, Ghazi Salahuddin and seven other civil rights campaigners petitioned the court questioning the FIA’s action against social media activists.

Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed, who represented the petitioners, argued that innocent citizens were being put behind bars on the pretext of criticizing the national security institutions. The crackdown has caused a sense of fear and discontent among the social media activists, he added.

He contended that the investigation agency’s action was in violation of  Article 19 of the country’s constitution which says that every citizen has right to freedom of expression and speech.

Therefore, Salahuddin pleaded to the bench to restrain the FIA from taking any adverse action against the social media activists.