The chief justice of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to complie a list of those YouTube channels, or accounts on any other social media platform, which may be speaking against the judiciary and to take action against them.
CJ Qasim Khan, during a hearing of a plea filed against Punjab’s commissioners, assistant commissioners (ACs) and deputy commissioners (DCs) for allegedly refusing court’s orders, staging a protest and raising slogans against the judiciary, pondered the relevance of freedom of speech in this case.
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PERMA) Chairman Muhammad Saleem Baig, in reply to a question about free speech posed by the chief justice, said that the precedent has been set wherein the authority has taken action in 129 cases of people speaking against the judiciary.
In a recent such incidet, the chairman cited that a TV channel had been suspended and imposed upon with a Rs1 million fine.
After this, CJ Khan put AC Raja Muhammad Haider on the spot and came down upon the assistant commissioner for having used abusive language against the judiciary and threatening the civil judge with consequences.
AC Haider had been a lynchpin in the recent string of protests by the commissioners, DCs and ACs after he refused to comply with an arrest warrant. Referring to these protests, the CJ directed the FIA director general to prepare a report with all related images, posts and videos.
The report is to be submitted in 30 days through PERMA and will be used to identify those officials who staged the protest against the judiciary.
Last year, the LHC) had taken notice of YouTube channels being opened in Pakistan without any proper mechanism in place, wherein CJ Khan had heard the case related to the non-removal of offensive content from on social media.
Expressing indignation over the circulation of offensive content on social media, the chief justice had questioned how YouTube channels were being launched across the country.
“Under which law are YouTube channels running and who monitors the content [on the video-sharing platform]?” the judge had inquired.
On the occasion, he had also remarked that derogatory language was being used on the platform against the judiciary and that he would not allow anyone to violate the sanctity of the institution.
“How many cases have been registered by the FIA so far and how many people have been arrested?” he had asked.