Islamabad High Court (IHC) Summons Interior Ministry to Justify X Ban | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Summons Interior Ministry to Justify X Ban

Pakistan Press Foundation

On March 26, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) summoned an authorized officer from the Ministry of Interior to appear before the court on April 3 and justify the ongoing ban on the social media platform ‘X’ (formerly Twitter). This legal action is in response to a petition challenging the ban.

An Islamabad resident Ehtisham Abbasi had filed a petition  on March 4, through his legal representation, seeking the court’s intervention to revoke the ongoing ban on X, arguing it infringed upon Article 19 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. The petition named the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Ministry of Information as respondents.

Access to X has remained intermittently blocked since February 17 in Pakistan, following allegations of electoral rigging during the February 8 general elections.

During the hearing, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq underscored the importance of X  as a  platform for the exchange of ideas, stressing that any restrictions must be imposed within specific legal frameworks.

During the hearing, the PTA submitted a written response along with a confidential letter intended solely for the court’s review. CJ Farooq found  nothing substantial  in the letter’s contents, and ordered the PTA to share it with the petitioner. According to the petitioner’s lawyer, Sardar Masroof, the letter was already available on social media platforms.

The PTA indicated that the ban on X was implemented following directives in the confidential letter, placing the responsibility for a response on the Ministry of Interior.

Summoning the authorized officer from the Interior Ministry, CJ Farooq remarked: “We call any one from the Interior Ministry and ask from him. Maybe it is not liked by someone whatever is written. Much is written about the judiciary. Things have changed during the past 30 years. You can impose curbs under some rules and regulations.”

The X ban not only curtails public discourse but also carries significant economic repercussions, with NetBlocks estimating the disruption’s impact to be in the realm of $50 million, factoring in lost productivity and missed business opportunities. 

Comments are closed.