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The Ministry of Interior's notification barring its employees from using social media as well as interacting with media was challenged before the Islamabad High Court Tuesday. Muhammad Awais through his counsel Mian Asif Mahmood Advocate filed the petition and cited secretary interior, Ministry of Interior through its minister and minister for law & justice as respondents.

He contended that the proceedings in this petition are inquisitorial rather than adversarial in nature and inaction on the part of state functionaries is volatile of the most of fundamental and basic rights i.e. right to life and right to well being of citizens enshrined in Article 9 and Article 38 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

He pointed that respondent No 1 (secretary interior) on the direction of respondent No 2 (minister of interior) had issued a notification dated 16th December 2019 while stating as followed, "The minister for interior affairs has directed that no officer/official should interact with media (print & electronic), nor upload any official view/comment on social media or any other channel of information, except with the formal and the written approval of the secretary interior or head of the attached department/organization, as the case may be."

The petitioner said that while issuing the above said notification comprising the above said lines/direction, the respondents also deleted the social media accounts of the government officers including deputy commissioner Islamabad, which is a clear violation of the Article 19 (Freedom of Expression) of the Constitution of Pakistan.

"For instance the Twitter account of DC Islamabad (was deactivated by the authorities), who was helping the public at large while taking instant actions on the complaints being filed through the Twitter by the masses from the vicinity," added the petition.

The petitioner continued that the social media accounts are commonly used to interact directly with masses for the effective communication by the government officials across the globe and Pakistan is no exception.

He added that to enjoy the protection of law and to be treated in accordance with law and dignity are inalienable rights available for every citizen of Pakistan, and obedience to the Constitution of Pakistan is inviolable obligation of state functionaries.

Therefore, he prayed to the court that the respondents may kindly be directed to withdraw the impugned notification dated 16-12-2019 and restore the social accounts of the government officers including the DC Islamabad in the best interest of public at large.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019