ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will Monday (today) resume hearing in identical petitions filed against the implementation of ‘Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards), Rules 2020’.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah will conduct hearing of the petitions wherein, he had previously directed the amicus curiae to submit their briefs regarding the notified social media rules.

The bench had earlier appointed Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Sadaf Baig, Nighat Dad and Fariha Aziz to assist the court in the matter. Previously, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Qasim Wudood apprised the court that a committee headed by Federal Minister Shireen Mazari held meetings with more than 30 stakeholders including Facebook, Google, Twitter and others in this regard.

Showing resentment over the closure of the short-video sharing app, TikTok, the IHC chief justice said that where it happens that authority makes policies on ethics? He asked that why TikTok was banned and unblocked. He remarked that this is not a joke; they have to move forward by obeying the law of the land. He remarked that you cannot fight with technology; the world has advanced in the field of technology.

Justice Minallah asked the AAG that is he aware of the difference between contempt of court and freedom of speech? He added that the court has given its decision that criticizing a judge is not a contempt of court. He further said that the contempt of court is only when there is an attempt to influence the delivery of justice. The Additional Attorney General also 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 Shireen Mazari, Maleeka Bukhari and others and this committee had held 19 meetings with 30 stakeholders and each party was heard in full length. He further said that they also released the social media rules on the website.