Justice Athar Minallah, Chief Justice (CJ) of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), has questioned if the Social Media Rules 2021 violate Article 19 of the 1973 Constitution.
The subject was asked at a joint hearing of all the lawsuits brought by human rights activists in the IHC challenging the implementation of the Social Media Rules 2021. The petitioners claim that these rules are intended to stifle free expression.
During the hearing, Justice Athar Minallah called digital media specialists to answer the court’s query at the next hearing. During the last hearing of a similar case, CJ IHC appointed social media experts as amicus curiae to help the court in resolving the petition.
Furthermore, Justice Athar Minallah stated that certain international human rights organisations have argued that this bench is anti-free expression, and he suggested that a different bench be formed to hear the case. The petitioners rejected the plan right away because they had entire faith in the bench. The joint hearing has been postponed until February 3rd.
The Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication (MoITT) formally announced the adoption of Social Media Rules 2021 in October 2021.
As stated in Article 19 of the 1973 Constitution, any individual or group has the right to express and disseminate any online information under certain rules.