Pakistan

Govt withdraws FIA petition challenging IHC order against PECA in SC


Hours after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) challenged the Islamabad High Court’s order, declaring the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) Section 20 as unconstitutional, in the Supreme Court on Saturday, the coalition government announced withdrawing the petition.

“Please note that this petition stands withdrawn immediately, as it is squarely against the government’s stated policy and principle of standing for and ensuring freedom of expression. The prime minister has taken strict notice of the filing of this petition,” Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said in a tweet.

Please note that this petition stands withdrawn immediately, as it is squarely against the government’s stated policy and principle of standing for and ensuring freedom of expression. The Prime Minister has taken strict notice of the filing of this petition.2/3
— Marriyum Aurangzeb (@Marriyum_A) May 7, 2022

She clarified that she and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif only came to know a short while ago that FIA had filed the petition in apex court. “Unfortunately, the news of this petition was a little late to reach us due to the fact that we were in Bisham during the day where there were no signals,” she maintained.

The FIA in its plea to the top court had contended that the IHC provided the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) relief “without legal justification”, claiming that the high court had misinterpreted Articles 19 and 19-A of the Constitution.

Read more: FIA challenges IHC order against PECA Section 20 in SC

The petition filed in the apex court stated that the IHC’s decision resulted in the inactivity of Section 20 of PECA claiming that the decision will encourage violators to break the law, calling for the decision of the Islamabad High Court dated April 8, 2022 to be suspended.

The controversial act was passed by the ousted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government, and subsequently challenged by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) as well as various journalist organisations.

Media organisations challenged the FIA’s ‘undue’ powers under Section 20 of the PECA ordinance, which made defamation a treasonable offense, in the IHC.

The high court on April 8, in a four-page order, declared Section 20 of the PECA law “null and void” and ordered an investigation into the abuse of power by the FIA under the PECA law.

The court further dismissed the cases registered under Section 20 of PECA.

PFUJ welcomes govt’s move

PFUJ welcomed the prime minister’s order for withdrawing FIA’s petition against IHC judgement on section 20 of PECA act 2016 soon after, saying, “We are urging for an urgent meeting of joint action committee for review of PECA act.”

PFUJ welcomes PM @CMShehbaz order for withdrawing FIA’s petition against IHC judgment on section 20 of PECA act 2016. We are urging for urgent meeting of Joint action Committee meeting for review of PECA act 1/2. @Marriyum_A
— PFUJ Official (@OfficialPfuj) May 7, 2022

For cordial media-government relations dialogue is the only solution for ensuring right of expression and press freedom, it said in a statement issued on its official Twitter handle.


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