ISLAMABAD: The scheduled hearing of a petition challenging the legality of the blackout of news and social media websites amidst Faizabad dharna, was “left over” in Islamabad High Court, here on July 03, 2018.
According to lawyer Umer Gillani representing Media Matters for Democracy’s Founder Asad Baig in this case, the hearing on the petition could not take place owing to lack of time by the Court.
Access to social media websites including Facebook, Twitter, and 22 news websites was blocked for more than 30 hours during a crackdown on 25th November, 2017 against protesters affiliated with a religious political party Tehreek e Labaik Ya Rasullulah. The protest is dubbed as “Faizabad Dharna.”
In response to this online crackdown, Mr. Asad filed a writ petition titled “Asad Baig Vs. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and the Ministry of Information and Technology” on March 08, 2018 through his lawyer Advocate Umer Gillani. The petition challenged the legality of the blocking of access to news and social media websites.
In the first hearing on the petition on March 13, Justice Aamir Farooq while admitting the petition issued notices to respondents including Pakistan Telecommunication Authority and the Federal Government, and directed them to submit written responses.
While the next hearing was scheduled for today (July 03), the case could not be taken up. The date of the next hearing will be announced soon.
It is to be noted that before filing the petition, MMfD filed an information request under Right to Information law with PTA and later also served them with a legal notice to acquire the copy of the official notification. However, PTA did not respond to any of them.