Constitutional petition for online rights

 

On the 17th of April 2012, seven individuals, Awab Alvi, Sana Saleem, Faisal Kapadia, Nazim Haji, Naeem Sadiq, Noman Quadri and Ayesha Tammy Haq through their lawyer Haider Waheed & Basil Nabi Malik, petitioned the High Court of Sindh at Karachi challenging the arbitrary and random acts of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in blocking/ censoring and restricting access to various websites in violation of the fundamental rights of the owners of the websites/online forums as well as the public at large, and without affording the aggrieved persons an opportunity of being heard or due notice.  It was prayed in the said petition that no website could be blocked/ censored or restricted without affording the aggrieved parties (including the public at large) due notice and an opportunity to be heard in accordance with Articles 4, 9, 10-A, 18, 19, 19A, 20 and 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, read with Section 6 of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Act, 1996.  The Honorable High Court of Sindh issued notice to the Federation of Pakistan, through the Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication, and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, through its Chairman, and furthermore ordered the PTA said not to block any website other than in accordance with the provisions of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) Act, 1996.  It may be noted that as per the PTA Act, the correct procedure to be followed before blocking or censoring of websites is as per Section 6 of the said Act, which states,

 

Section 6.

Responsibilities of the Authority.—In exercising its functions and powers under this Act, the Authority shall ensure that—

(a) Rights of licensees are duly protected;

(b) All of its decisions and determinations are made promptly, in an

Open equitable, non-discriminatory, consistent and transparent

Manner;

(c) All applications made to it are disposed of expeditiously;

(d) The persons affected by its decisions or determinations are given a

due notice thereof and provided with an opportunity of being

Heard;

(e) Fair competition in the telecommunication sector exists and is

Maintained

(f) The interests of users of telecommunication services are duly safeguarded and protected.

The intention of the said petition was to bring the entire process under judicial review to insure its fairness, transparency, to prevent ad hoc blocking, to provide a proper system of redress to the parties owning these websites and forums and to protect the fundamental rights of the public at large including internet users in Pakistan.


Media lead for this petition: Ayesha Tammy Haq

Email : ayeshatammy@gmail.com

Twitter ID : @tammyhaq

 

The text of the order is as follows:-

“Notice to the Respondents as well as learned DAG for 07-05-12, to be issued instantly and through all possible modes, till then the Respondents shall conduct themselves strictly in accordance with law and in case, they initiate any action, such shall be done in accordance with relevant provisions of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority Act, 1996.”
Organizations supporting this petition : Bolobhi, Bytes for all, Dont block the blog
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10 comments
HuzefaMuhammad
HuzefaMuhammad

Well done Dr. Awab and Mr. Faisal. You both doing a great job :)

PappuBarista
PappuBarista

not that it matters and just out of interest, which websites?

faisalkapadia
faisalkapadia moderator

 @PappuBarista If its not clear from the objective defined about let me do the honors. We are referring to websites which are not contrary to PTA's charter of rules but somehow still end up being banned on an adhoc basis. For instance.. until very recently hometownshoes.com was banned..which has now been unbanned due to a three week long effort by P@sha..the rolling stones is another example with  a three link link to an article criticizing our army that caused this website to be banned but the one with the actual article on it is freely accesible. We aren't against banning, we just want it to be a more transparent and judicious process with an option in it for redress.

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