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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) referred the matter related to social media laws to the National Assembly speaker to constitute a committee to review these laws.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Wednesday issued the directions while hearing identical petitions filed against the implementation of “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards), Rules 2020”.

During the hearing, the IHC chief justice remarked the PTI government had drafted the social media law, adding those who were in the opposition previously and were opposing these rules, are now in power. He added that now, it is better for the government to hold consultations with stakeholders and resolve the issue.

Justice Minallah observed that the court always thinks it appropriate that the government in power look into the matter and resolve it. He further said that respecting freedom of expression is necessary and the court is observing daily what is constantly being done to freedom of expression in this country. He made it clear that everything should be clear in the rules and nothing should be left open-ended that can be misused tomorrow.

Later, the judge summoned Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Farhatullah Babar to the rostrum and said that your party is now in power, correct these rules. He further said that it is a test of this government, what they were saying when in opposition, and they should rectify these rules accordingly.

Babar suggested the court to forward the matter to the Parliament. He said that it will also be a test of this government. Then, the bench directed to send all the petitions with regard to the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act to the speaker National Assembly for consideration in the Parliament.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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