YouTube ban to continue as case lingers at LHC
LAHORE: The proceedings on a petition challenging the ban imposed by the former government on YouTube for exhibiting blasphemous material could not be held on Thursday as Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah who was hearing this case was not working at the principal seat.
Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah at present is working at the LHC Multan Bench. On April 26judge had directed the federal government to approach Google administration in Singapore and seek their point of view. The judge had asked the government to also manage appearance of Google representative in the court, if possible.
Judge had issued the direction on a petition moved by a local NGO “Bytes for All” challenging the ban imposed by the former government last year on the YouTube for exhibiting blasphemous material on it. YouTube is a subsidiary website of Google.
YouTube was blocked across Pakistan on September 17, 2012 following orders by then-prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who had ordered to impose ban after YouTube refused to heed to the advice of the Pakistan government to remove the blasphemous film from the website.
A deputy attorney general had also informed that the federal government was willing to lift the ban but blasphemous material was still available on the website. He said that the government had decided to continue the ban after the Google administration refused to remove the blasphemous material.
He said that there was no agreement between Pakistan and the Google, which could enable the country to censor controversial material itself.
A representative of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) informed that that the authority would be able, within the next four months, to censor controversial and undesired stuff from the websites like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and U.A.E.
Petitioner’s counsel submitted that all Internet curbs are counterproductive and deprive Pakistanis of the right to access to information as well as the right to counter any propaganda against the country or against what they believe in strongly. He submitted that taking away YouTube’s access is the modern equivalent of taking away a scholar’s pen.
He submitted that the ban on YouTube amounted to infringing upon fundamental rights about reading and acquiring knowledge. He said a large number of people had been affected by the ban.
He requested to declare the ban illegal and also order to restore access to the website.