slamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah took exception on Tuesday to the remarks made by Prime Minister Imran Khan in support of the controversial PECA ordinance, saying it seemed like the prime minister had been misguided about the law.
During the hearing of a petition filed against the ordinance by the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) president, the IHC CJ said, “From the speech made by the prime minister, it was apparent that he was misguided.”
Justice Minallah said that anti-defamation laws already existed in Pakistan independent of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA). The CJ said that in Pakistan, however, laws are implemented to target the critics.
The high court also barred the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from acting against anyone without following the proper arrest protocols.
The IHC also clubbed the application filed by the LHCBA with other petitions against PECA being heard by the same bench, and fixed the case’s hearing for March 10.
In its plea, the LHCBA president said the application raised new points in the case. It said the FIA could not take action in matters that were private in nature. It added that even Islam allowed the freedom of expression.
The remarks by the IHC judge 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 had 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 had wondered.
Shocking as it may seem, Imran had 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’s 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.