Ban on internet sacrilege sought
ISLAMABAD, February 16 2006: The Supreme Court was requested on Wednesday February 15 through a petition to direct the government to discharge their lawful duty by prohibiting the broadcast of blasphemous material through internet services, infringing religious rights of Muslims in Pakistan.
Advocate Malik Qamar Afzal, additional secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on behalf of a Dr Mohammad Imran Uppal filed the petition by invoking origional jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under fundamental rights.
The petitioner asked the apex court to direct the Ministry of Telecommunication and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to stop, stall and prohibit broadcast of any defamatory material through internet services.
Federal government, ministry of Telecommunication, chairmen of Pemra, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Yahoo Inc. USA and I&I Co (Webhost of Site www.muhammad.cartoon.com) through its chairman Andreas Ganger, are respondents in the petition.
On jurisdiction, the petitioner cited Licra Vs Yahoo case, in which the Supreme Court of France determined regulations of online content in the world market by rejecting Yahoo’s contention that France’s Supreme Court had no jurisdiction.
The court held that Yahoo’s conduct caused harm in France, therefore it had jurisdiction to prosecute against Yahoo US.
The decision of the Paris court was, however, challenged by Yahoo in a California district court, obtaining a declaratory relief against the French court’s injunction and won the case. But on the appeal of the French decree holder, the ninth circuit of the US Supreme Court had set aside the district court’s judgment and upheld the French court’s verdict.
The petionioner contended that as the Supreme Court of Pakistan had jurisdiction to prosecute the internet search engine and its order would be enforceable in the United States.
He prayed to strictly restrain respondent internet service providers from publishing, transmitting and advertising any site showing depictions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to the intranets and their subscribers in Pakistan.
The petitioner asked the court to declare the act of portraying and making drawing depictions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) an act of religious discrimination, offensive and immoral, bringing unrest in Pakistan and against the fundamental rights of citizens of Pakistan.
The petition sought directions to respondent I&I.com to take measures to stop and restrict publication of depiction in the website hosted by it.
It also prayed that the government should suspend licenses of all broadband transmission companies, providing internet services despite the presence of defamatory publication on websites viewed in Pakistan.
The petition said that Pemra and the PTA also be directed to take necessary measures and restrain publication of offensive material by any internet service provider till the final adjudication of the petition.
It said despite strongest condemnation and protests against the depiction of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), respondents had allowed the website, which is sponsored by the Blue Ribbon Campaign to support Denmark’s right to free speech and protect the free publication of depictions.
They, it said, had allowed these depictions to be published and offered for Pakistan-based internet through the respondents, he deplored.