Sindh High Court Orders Restoration of Social Media Platform X, Seeks Justification for Ban | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Sindh High Court Orders Restoration of Social Media Platform X, Seeks Justification for Ban

Pakistan Press Foundation

On April 17, the Sindh High Court (SHC) has ordered the interior ministry to withdraw its February 17 letter to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), which led to the ban on social media platform X, within one week. The court asked the government to provide a valid reason for the extended ban, following over two months of disruption that began in the wake of the February 8 general elections.

A division bench led by Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi presided over the hearing, addressing a petition challenging the suspension of mobile and internet services during the general elections and the ban on social media platforms across Pakistan. The bench directed the interior ministry to either justify the ban or rescind it, setting a May 9 deadline for a response.

Advocate Abdul Moiz Jaferii and activist Jibran Nasir, the petitioners, argued that the interior ministry’s order lacked clear justification, noting that it was issued following allegations of vote rigging during the general elections.  . Chief Justice Abbasi questioned the Additional Attorney General (AAG), Zia Makhdoom, about the reasons behind the ban on X. The AAG admitted that the platform was working sporadically, leading the chief justice to express concerns about the lack of transparency.

During the hearing, Jaferii pointed out that the ongoing restriction of X despite the SHC’s February 22 order to restore services amounted to contempt of court

The PTA previously admitted in court papers that it was following the interior ministry’s orders to shut down X, referencing reports from intelligence agencies. However, the PTA asserted that its actions did not contravene Article 19-A of the Constitution, which ensures the public’s right to information. It also emphasized that the federal government has the authority to issue policy directives related to national security.

The court noted that the interior ministry should either justify the extended ban under the law or rescind its letter to the PTA. The SHC also warned the PTA against further disruptions of internet services without valid reasons, suggesting that continued suspension without justification could lead to adverse inferences against the authorities.

Meanwhile, in a related hearing at the Islamabad High Court (IHC), the interior ministry reiterated that the ban on X was for security reasons, citing reports from intelligence agencies. The ministry argued that social media platforms like X could be used to incite violence and destabilize the country. It emphasized that the ban was not intended to restrict freedom of expression, but to maintain law and order.   

Comments are closed.