IHC summons interior secy over closure of social media platform X

In Local
April 03, 2024



ISLAMABAD:

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) summoned on Wednesday the interior secretary on April 17 over the closure of the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) suspension.

Chief Justice (IHC) Aamer Farooq expressed displeasure with the report submitted by the interior ministry on the issue during the hearing.

The joint secretary of interior appeared before court today and informed that X had been closed following a report from the security agencies.

Expressing his displeasure, the judge reminded the secretary that the ministry was to submit it in writing. “What is this attitude? You did not bring any file or any document.”

Justice Farooq added that there will be no verbal conversation and everything should be in writing.

The joint secretary informed CJ that there was a threat to the country’s security. “I did not ask you to give a speech, give me the reasons, I can talk more than you, my secretary will make a better report than this, I will not listen in this manner,” said the judge. 

Read IHC issues notices to ministry, PTA over suspension of social media platform X

“The report states that content against national security is uploaded and therefore X is blocked,” the joint secretary replied.

CJ stated that there must be some evidence or X was suspended on the basis of an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report, adding that there are no reasons mentioned in the report.

The court summoned the interior secretary and sought other court decisions on the matter, stating “Let’s see which court decides first, let’s see if the cases are pending in other courts, then who hears it first”.

The court further sought reasons and evidence related to any threat in writing and summoned the interior secretary in person at the next hearing scheduled for April 17. The hearing was then adjourned. 

Earlier the IHC also issued notices to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Ministry of Information on a petition challenging the suspension of X.

The platform was blocked soon after the then Rawalpindi commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatha accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa of engaging in ‘rigging,’ a charge refuted by both the electoral watchdog and the Chief Justice. The social media app had earlier been suspended during the run-up to the February 8 polls.

The petition named the information ministry and the PTA as respondents. IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq heard the plea and inquired if the social media platform was still suspended in the country.

The petition further said the undeclared suspension of the social media platform violates Article 19 of the Constitution and prayed to the court to issue directives to the respondents for the immediate lifting of the ban.

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