LAHORE - A representative of Bytes for All namely Ms Gull Bukhari was embarrassed as the court confiscated her voice recorder which she had placed near a loudspeaker in the court room to record the court proceedings on Thursday.

Ms Gull Bukhari, though tendered apology but the court issued her a notice under contempt of court law. A division bench of the Lahore High Court headed by Justice Mansoor Ali shah was hearing the case.

The judge observed that this recorder will remain in court’s custody till the next date of hearing. As the judge asked her about the motive behind this recording, she said she was a free lance journalist and recording the proceedings for reporting purposes. At this, the judge asked her if she was a journalist, she must be aware of the rules and regulations as the recordings of the court proceedings are not allowed without court’s permission. The court issued her contempt notice.

On the other hand, the counsel opposing opening of YouTube in Pakistan before the Lahore High Court was embarrassed during the proceedings of the case as the court was informed by Advocate Yasser Latif Hamdani, the counsel for Bytes for All, an NGO, who has filed the petition for reopening of the YouTube, that he himself was watching YouTube in the court room few minutes before the court proceedings started.

During the proceedings, he said that taking away access to allegedly objectionable material deprived the people of their right to responding to such material.

A Deputy Attorney General of Pakistan presented a reply from the Minister of Information Technology Anushay Rehman, stating that after posting of the controversial movie on YouTube, the government decided to ban it.

Quoting the minister, the DAG said that due to lack of technology, they do not have mechanism to block specific material from a website. He said the government was trying to have the relevant technology to put filters on internet like China and Saudi Arabia had done. He also said they could not ban 100 percent access to the objectionable material.

On this, the judge remarked that government had taken a similar stance some nine months ago.

Arguing the case, the counsel for Bytes for All said Pakistan was a constitutional and democratic country and could not put unconstitutional and undemocratic sanctions on the rights of the people.

He said no rules or laws permitted Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to put ban on content on internet. He said the ban was against Article 19, 19-A and 14 of the constitution.

Another counsel in favour of reopening of the YouTube, stated that publishing of blasphemous material was an offence but having access to it was not a blasphemy.

Azhar Siddique justifying the ban on YouTube said till the enforcement of some mechanism by the government to stop the objectionable material, the ban should continue. At this Justice Shah said if today the YouTube was banned for just one objectionable movie, the other day they will have to ban some other videos and in this way the whole internet service would be banned.

Siddique said there were only two people in the court who wanted its reopening out of 10 million people of Lahore. At this the judge said, “If they are two, you are single in favour of ban”. No, they are six, Azhar replied.

The court adjourned further hearing for indefinite period.