FIA working on removal of defamatory material online against Mehwish Hayat, Sindh High Court told
Weeks after actor Mehwish Hayat filed a petition against comments made by YouTuber Adil Raja in the Sindh High Court (SHC), the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Federal Investigation Authority (FIA) submitted progress reports on the removal of defamatory and objectionable content against her.
On Thursday, a two-member bench, headed by Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto, heard the case. During the hearing, representatives from both authorities were asked if the defamatory content about the actor had been removed. The PTA informed the court that content that it had the ability to remove had been removed. It suggested that the petitioner approach the social media platforms directly for the removal of further content.
The PTA reported that a total number of 65 Twitter and 10 Instagram links were examined, of which only three links have been blocked. Five are protected and private, 18 were found to be free of defamatory content while the remaining 49 are being reviewed by the social media platforms, the court was told.
Investigators informed the court that though an inquiry had been initiated on the court’s order, Hayat has not yet filed an online complaint on the FIA’s site. It requested that she be directed to do so for further relief.
The court adjourned the hearing till February 24 with the directive that the remaining respondents file their comments. The FIA sub-inspector has been summoned at the next hearing.
On Jan 11, Hayat took legal action against YouTuber Raja for defamatory content shared online. The actor had initially approached the FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing to look into the matter, however, due to lack of progress, she approached the SHC for remedy.
In the petition, she called the allegations levelled by Raja “blatantly false, derogatory, defamatory, malicious, incendiary, dangerous [and] sensationalising” and said they “degrad[ed]” the four actors he mentioned in his video, “causing an affront to their modesty and dignity by alleging that they were used by intelligence agencies and the establishment to lure politicians into compromising positions at safe houses maintained by such agencies where videos were made of such actresses with such politicians.”
Several Twitter accounts other than Raja’s were named for “propagating” the video and its “malicious content” that maligned the state institutions as well as Hayat. She had petitioned the court under sections 11 (hate speech), 20 (offences against dignity of a natural person), 21 (offences against modesty of a natural person and minor) and 37 (unlawful online content) of the PECA, 2016.
Before Hayat, on January 2, actor Kubra Khan threatened to sue Raja for defamation after a video in which he said that four “top models and actresses” had illicit relationships with former top generals.
“I stayed quiet initially because obviously a fake video isn’t going to take over my existence but ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Do you think random people can point fingers at me and I’ll sit quietly and take it?” she wrote on Instagram and Twitter.
“So Mr Adil Raja before you start to heap allegations upon people have some proof first. You have a total of three days to come up with this proof which you claim is haq and sach. If not, either retract your statement and publicly apologise or I will be suing you for defamation. And don’t worry, lucky for you I’m not just from here, I am from UK so I’ll come there if I have to! Cause the truth is with me, rights are with me and I don’t fear anyone or their fathers,” Khan had said.
A few days after her petition, SHC had directed FIA and PTA to block defamatory material being disseminated against Khan on social media.