PTA Issues Notice For Lack of Framework To Block Websites

the notice issued by Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday to the members and chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority(PTA) for not implementing the rules to prevent the Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) 2016.

The petition was filed by Awami worker party while seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against chairman Amir Azeem Bajwa and members Mohammad Naveed and Khawar Siddique.

AWP presented before the court and informed that although the framework has been directed by the court still the authority has failed to notify the rules.

In September IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah observed that PTA does not have access to block websites without framing proper rules. The court allotted three months to frame and notify the rules. Article continues after ad

Justice Minallah had also ordered that “the PTA is not empowered to pass an order or take action under Section 37 [of Peca] in derogation of the mandatory requirements of due process.”

Hearing a case related to the blocking of AWP’s website, the order said the PTA had stated in response to the query that Section 37 of Peca empowered it to block websites “without notice or affording an opportunity of hearing to the person who could be adversely affected by an order or action of the authority.”

As per the order: “This interpretation of Section 37 is in flagrant violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution as well as the settled law enunciated by the superior courts.”

In every statue, the principles of natural justice are necessary as noted by the court. It observed that Article 10A made it mandatory to observe the requirements of due process before passing any order or taking any action whereby persons could be adversely affected.

“The legislature in its wisdom by using the expression ‘shall’ has manifested its intention that the authority must prescribe rules for the purposes described under Section 37(2) of the Act of 2016,” it added.