National

Lawyers challenge government order to ban PUBG at top court

- NAYAK PAUDEL, Kathmandu

Apr 17, 2019-

Terming the ban on PlayerUnknown’s Battleground, a popular multiplayer internet game commonly known as PUBG, an unconstitutional move, as it restricts citizen’s freedom of expression over the internet, a team of lawyers on Tuesday filed a Public Interest Litigation at the Supreme Court, challenging the government’s move of banning the popular online game.

Advocates Prabin Subedi, Bikash Thapa, Anurag Subedi, Subash Pathak and Ritesh Paudel, along with a law student Binay Rimal, filed the petition at the court.

The Kathmandu District Court on April 10 had given permission to ban PUBG in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Metropolitan Crime Division seeking the permission to that effect.

Following the district court’s order, the Nepal Telecommunication Authority directed all internet and mobile service providers to ban PUBG on April 11. After the ban was imposed, police also said it will arrest anyone found playing the game.

According to the division, they requested for permission to ban PUBG following complaints by parents, schools and school associations saying that the game was having a negative effect on the behaviour of children and youths, and affecting their education.

“Our constitution provides the right to freedom of expression. The ban over PUBG is an unconstitutional move and there is no law which gives the Kathmandu District Court a jurisdiction to impose a ban over the game,” advocate Subedi told the Post.

The petitioners have also argued that taking the government’s action of banning an online game lightly will encourage authorities and law enforcement agencies to impose bans on other internet services in the future as well.

“For instance, today PUBG has been banned. Tomorrow, a similar ban can be imposed on other social media sites as well,” said Rimal. “This can restrict our freedom of expression over the internet.”

The petition filed at the Supreme Court reads that the ban over PUBG has violated Articles 16(1), 17(2) (A), 18, 19 and 39 of the constitution.

The petition also states that the Crime Division had sought permission to impose a ban over PUBG without proper investigation and concrete reasoning. And their lack of proper investigation can be clearly seen in the Public Interest Litigation filed by the police at the Kathmandu District Court. It shows the police’s complete lack of awareness regarding the game, as it lists the title of the game wrong, stating PlayerUnknown’s Battleground as ‘playing unidentified battle ground’.

The petitioners have requested the Supreme Court to remove the ban over PUBG and to issue an interim order stating that such games and other internet services should not be banned until and unless a specific law is enforced for it. The Supreme Court has scheduled the hearing for Thursday.   

 

Published: 17-04-2019 07:00

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