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Islamabad High Court orders FIA not to arrest anyone under PECA Ordinance

The IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah announced this decision while hearing a petition filed by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists against the PECA ordinance.

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court today directed the Federal Investigation Agency not to arrest anyone under the Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment), Ordinance 2022. The court also issued a notice to the attorney general on this matter.

The IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah announced this decision while hearing a petition filed by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists against the PECA ordinance.

On Tuesday (Feb 22), the PFUJ had challenged PECA Amendment Ordinance 2022 in the Islamabad High Court. The journalists organisation maintained the amended law was imposed just to curb press freedom.

During the proceeding, Adil Aziz Qazi, who was representing the PFUJ, told the court that the Senate session ended on February 17, 2022. The National Assembly session was supposed to start on February 18, but it was postponed so the government could introduce the law through an ordinance. Why was the government in such a hurry to impose this ordinance? he asked.

The counsel told the court, in addition to amendments, a new section has also been added by the government.

Chief justice asked the lawyer what amendment was made in Peca’s Section 20? They have the punishment of imprisonment from up to three years to five years, he said.

Chief justice remarked: there should be no defamation law for public figures. Zimbabwe and Uganda have also removed defamation from criminal law.”

This is exactly what we say, those who call themselves public figures should not be afraid of criticism, Qazi replied.

The court said that the FIA has already submitted SOPs and according to that no arrest will be made on any complaint under section 20. DG FIA and secretary interior will be responsible if these SOPs are not followed.

The court issued a notice to the attorney general and asked him to submit a reply. Later, the court adjourned the hearing till Thursday.

Javed Mahmood
Written By

I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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