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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has decided to review the new social media laws and sought suggestions from the amicus curiae in this matter.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday took the decision, while hearing identical petitions filed against the implementation of “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards), Rules 2020” and appointed Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Sadaf Baig, Nighat Dad, and Fariha Aziz as amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter.

Justice Minallah, while summoning the suggestions from the amicus curiae, remarked that the court would see whether the rules are not in contradiction with the constitution of Pakistan.

Additional Attorney General 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 chief justice said where does it happen that authority makes policies on ethics? He asked 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 is he aware of the difference between contempt of court and freedom of speech? He added that the court has given a decision that criticising 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 AAG also provided the details of the consultation with stakeholders on social media rules. 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. The hearing was adjourned until January 6.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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