PM misguided on PECA Act: IHC CJ

Justice Minallah says Imran isn’t aware there is already a law against defamation

Our Correspondent March 01, 2022
IHC. PHOTO: Islamabad High Court website


Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah has remarked that after listening to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address on Monday night it looks like somebody has misguided him on the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) law as there is already a law in place against defamation.

Chief Justice Minallah was hearing a petition filed by former Lahore High Court Bar president Maqsood Buttar challenging the amendments to PECA through a presidential ordinance. Advocate Hassan Irfan Khan appeared before the court to represent Buttar.

During the hearing on Tuesday, the chief justice remarked after watching the prime minister’s address to the nation last night, it seemed that somebody ill-advised him on the PECA Act as he wasn’t aware that there was already a law against defamation apart from the PECA Ordinance.

“Nobody guided the premier regarding this law,” the judge observed. He sent a notice to the attorney general on the request of the petitioner. The chief justice also ordered to combine the former LHCBA president’s petition with other petitions challenging the amendments to PECA.

Advocate Khan apprised the court that his client’s petition raised two new points that were different from other petitions. He argued that the Federal Investigation Agency did not have the authority to look into an affair between two parties, adding that the agency could probe only those cases which pertained to the federal government.

Read Govt defends PECA move amid heavy criticism

He argued that even Islam allows freedom of expression. On this, Justice Minallah asked the FIA to observe the SOPs. With this, the judge put off the hearing till March 10.

PM defends PECA amendment

The remarks by the IHC CJ came a day after the prime minister defended the PECA ordinance, saying that the amendments were brought because “social media was filled with filth such as child pornography”.

According to PM Imran, the content being shared on social media was causing a threat to the institution of family. He had regretted that even he was not being spared, recalling that a few years ago a journalist had reported that his wife had left him and that he had done something illegal at his Bani Gala residence.

Lamenting that he had filed a case but hasn’t got relief in three years, he said the same journalist had now written that his wife has left the house. “If this can happen with the country’s prime minister ... imagine what would happen to the rest of the people,” he wondered.

Shocking as it may seem, Imran revealed that the same journalist was locked up and beaten for three days when he wrote about former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s corruption during the PML-N government.

The prime minister had charged that there were journalists who were spreading filth in exchange for money, adding that the good journalists had no issue with PECA and would want fake news to be eliminated.

Imran recalled that three leading newspapers had carried stories, stating that the selection of AJK PM was based on some magic and movement of stars. He had said one couldn’t even think about saying such things under democracy in any other country.




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