ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday issued a notice to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) over the body’s failure to notify rules contemplated by the legislature under sub-section (2) of Section 37 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016.
The petition, filed by the Awami Workers Party (AWP), sought contempt proceedings against the PTA for failing to comply with the September 2019 order issued by the same court. The bench was presided by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah.
In 2019, the AWP approached the high court after their website was blocked by the PTA. The authority had maintained that it was empowered under Section 37 (2) of PECA 2016 to block the website.
However, the bench ruled that the authority was not empowered to block any website in violation of due process and without hearing the viewpoint of the other party.
“This interpretation of Section 37 of the Act of 2016 is in flagrant violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution as well as the settled law enunciated by the superior courts,” read the order.
The court noted that the principles of natural justice are required to be read into every statute. It further 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 it is mandatory for the Authority to prescribe rules for the purposes described under Section 37(2) of the Act of 2016,” it added.
The IHC had directed PTA to frame rules under Section 37 (2) of the PECA 2016 within 90 days after the ruling. Six months on, the authority is yet to comply with the order.