Cabinet okays amendments to cybercrime law via Ord Amendments to ECP’s code of conduct approved


Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry confirmed on Saturday that the federal cabinet had given the approval for a presidential ordinance to amend the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016.

He said the approval for the ordinance was obtained through circulation, reports a news channel.

The minister said under the amendments, defaming individuals on social media would be declared a punishable offence and courts would be obliged to give a verdict on cases registered under PECA within six months.

Chaudhry shared this earlier in a tweet as well, saying that the federal cabinet’s approval had been sought for the amendments. The PECA was passed by the National Assembly in 2016 amid the opposition’s protest.

The legislation stated that parody or satire-based websites and social media accounts can be proceeded against on ‘spoofing’, which makes it an offence to run a website or send information with a “counterfeit source”. It also authorised Federal Investigation Agency officers to unlock any computer, mobile phone or other device that may be required for the purpose of investigating a crime or offence, and said that defamation would be treated as a punishable offence.

In another major development, the federal government has approved a landmark amendment in the election code of conduct allowing ministers and parliamentarians to run poll campaigns of candidates, sources said on Saturday.

The federal cabinet extended its nod to the ordinance framed to bring the desired changes in the code of conduct through a summary circulation. According to the sources, the reason for amendment in the code of conduct also cites reservations of all the political parties.

After federal cabinet’s approval, the ordinance has been forwarded to the Aiwan-i-Sadr, the sources said, adding the ordinance will be enforced after getting the nod of President Dr Arif Alvi.

Earlier, Election Commission of Pakistan used to reprimand and slap fines on lawmakers for violating the code of conduct.

It is to be mentioned here that the ministers used to receive show-cause notices from the Election Commission of Pakistan over participating in the election campaign.

Underscoring the need for speedy justice, Fawad Chaudhry said that the courts will be bound to decide the cases within six months.

On February 7, the ECP had disqualified Umar Amin Gandapur, brother of Federal Minister For Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur, from contesting local body elections for violating the Code of Conduct announced by the commission for the local government elections in the province.

However, on the next day, the Islamabad High Court had suspended the ECP’s order to disqualify Umar Amin Gandapur from contesting elections.

The ECP had also directed federal minister Ali Amin Gandapur not to attend any political gathering or corner meeting till the culmination of the polls.

Earlier, the Election Commission had also issued notice to PM Imran Khan for violating the election laws and attending political meetings ahead of local bodies polls.

The Federal cabinet on Saturday also approved a summary of a 5-year sentence for criticizing the state institutions including Pakistan army, judiciary and others on electronic media.


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