KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday issued notice to information technology secretary and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) chairman to file their respective replies on a petition challenging a blanket ban on YouTube, a video-sharing website.
Justice Munib Akhtar was seized with the hearing of the petition jointly filed by as many as 24 citizens, including students, teachers, and bankers, who requested the court to declare the censorship and arbitrary ban on certain websites such as YouTube in Pakistan a blatant violation of the fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
The petitioners submitted that many students who intend to attend the classes of online courses during the summer vacations were facing immense difficulties and hardships because of what they called arbitrary ban on certain websites.
They stated that ban on video-sharing platforms like YouTube had a disastrous impact on Pakistani students, teachers, entrepreneurs and other professionals using YouTube for educational, religious, commercial or entertainment purposes. Besides, the act of PTA had deprived them of access to knowledge, educational material and philosophical debates.
The PTA could ban specific web addresses instead of placing a blanket ban on YouTube, they added. “Blocking and censoring websites which are sources of knowledge without justification whatsoever is clear indication that federal authorities were determined to frustrate the citizens’ including petitioners attempt to acquire education.”
They submitted that while many countries, including India and those with a Muslim majority such as Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives had banned the web addresses of an anti-Islam film, only Pakistan persisted with a blanket ban on YouTube to the detriment of its citizens and their fundamental rights.
They requested the court to direct the PTA to desist from any further violation of these fundamental rights and to immediately lift all such bans and censorship detrimental to the fundamental rights of all citizens of Pakistan. The court was also in requested to restrain federal authorities from locking further websites or IP addresses.
Hearing of case was adjourned till August 12.
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