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IHC sends plea against social media rules to NA speaker

Court also directs NAB to give arguments after preparation in reference against Ahsan Iqbal

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday sent a petition against social media rules to the National Assembly speaker.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition filed by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Farhatullah Baber against the social media rules prepared by the last Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

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The petitioner prayed the court to seek a report from the Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) pertaining to the actions taken under the new social media rules. It also prayed the court to issue directives to amend the previous rules or the new ones with the consultation of all the stakeholders.

During the proceedings, the chief justice remarked that as the government had now been changed and the petitioner’s party was in power, the court was sending the matter to the Parliament.

Farhatullah Baber also requested the court to send the case to the NA so that the relevant parliamentary committee could review it. The court, subsequently, ordered to send the matter to the NA speaker.

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Separately, the IHC directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to present arguments after preparations for the acquittal plea of Federal Minister Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal in the Naroval Sports City Complex reference.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Minallah heard Ahsan’s appeal against the decision of the accountability court.

At the outset of the hearing, the NAB prosecutor said that his department had already submitted comments against the appeal and now it wanted to file some documents.

The chief justice remarked that several times executive’s honest decisions could also lead to a loss but it couldn’t be called corruption.

If the accused had not taken any financial benefit then the decision couldn’t be declared corruption.

The court remarked that it was a public project and more than half of it had been completed already. The bench asked why the work on the project was stopped and who would be responsible for this loss.

The chief justice questioned whether the NAB ensured to stop the wastage of public money.
He said that the bureau was responsible for the loss and why shouldn’t it prepare a reference against itself.

The court asked whether the NAB’s case was that the misuse of powers led to a loss to the national exchequer.

The chief justice remarked that there was nothing against Ahsan in the reference and he was not alone in approving the project.

Justice Minallah asked whether the NAB had targeted the federal minister. Did he get the approval of CTWP forcibly, he questioned.

The court expressed annoyance with the NAB investigation officer and remarked that he had made the case against the CTWP chairman but he didn’t know the purpose of this department. The court adjourned further hearing till June 8.

Earlier in the day, the IHC served notice to the chairman of the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) on an implementation case on a judgment against the restoration of 68 employees.

Chief Justice Minallah heard the case filed by a petitioner Zahid Akram. The petitioner’s lawyer pleaded that the services of 68 employees were restored on a political basis.

He said that the decision of the Public Accounts Committee regarding restoring the employees was challenged before IHC which set it aside. But these employees were not terminated despite court directives and still working against their posts, he added.

He said 269 employees in PARC were recruited in 2011 without following the due process.

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