The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday restrained the Federal Investigation Agency from making arrests under Section 20 of the recently promulgated Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Act Ordinance 2022.
The IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the directives while hearing a petition filed by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists against the ordinance.
President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated the ordinance on Sunday to amend the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 (Peca).
During the hearing, the IHC chief justice remarked that the FIA had already submitted a document of its standard operating procedures to the court, stipulating that no arrests will be made under section 20 of the ordinance.
“In case of violation of the SOPs, director general FIA and home secretary will be responsible,” the court observed. The FIA had submitted its SOPs to the court in July last year after the IHC had sought a report from the agency to stop misuse of the cybercrimes law.
Justice Minallah remarked that even countries such as Zimbabwe and Uganda were also removing defamation from their criminal law.
Earlier, PFUJ’s counsel Adil Aziz Qazi informed the court that the Senate session was adjourned on Feb 17 while the National Assembly session was scheduled a day after it. “However, the session of the lower house of the parliament was called off abruptly to pave the way for the promulgation of the Peca ordinance.”