The Islamabad High Court (IHC) today ordered the government not to make arrests under Section 20 of the recently promulgated Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Act (PECA) ordinance 2022.
President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated an ordinance on February 20 to amend the PECA, 2016, making online defamation a non-bailable, cognisable offence. After the amendment, the jail term for demotion has also been increased from three years to five years while giving more powers to the FIA.
IHC Stops Govt from Making Arrests Under Section 20 of PECA Ordinance
A day earlier the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) had moved the IHC against the PECA ordinance 2022.
Taking up the PFUJ’s petition, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued a notice to the government and restrained it from arresting people under the ordinance.
At the outset of today’s hearing, PFUJ’s counsel Adil Aziz Qazi argued that the government deliberately postponed a scheduled session of the National Assembly (NA) on February 18 to introduce this ordinance.
“What were the circumstances under which the government issued the ordinance in haste?” questioned the lawyer.
At this, the judge remarked that the FIA had already submitted SOPs relating to raids and arrests. The court ordered that nobody should be arrested on any complaint registered under Section 20.
“Secretary interior ministry and DG FIA will be responsible if the SOPs are not followed,” warned Justice Minallah.
“There should be no defamation law for public representatives”, remarked Justice Minallah.
Meanwhile, the court sought assistance from the attorney general of Pakistan in the case and adjourned the hearing till February 24.
Source: The News