Journalist bodies challenge PECA ordinance in IHC

Journalist bodies challenge PECA ordinance in IHC

Islamabad (Web Desk): Following the former Lahore High Court (LHC) bar president, the journalist bodies and senior journalists challenged the Pakistan Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Act ordinance 2022 (PECA) in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

According to details, the journalist associations, including Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) and some senior journalists of the country, have filed the petition through senior lawyer Munir A Malik.

They were of the opinion that criticism of the actions of the public office holders was necessary for a vibrant democracy.

The petitioners maintained in the pleas that Section 44 (a)(5) inserted in the ordinance, that bounds the courts to decide defamation cases within six months, will pressurise the judges hearing the cases.

"In order to issue an ordinance, the president must have a valid cause, adding that the PECA law will result in an increase in self-censorship. It said the law was in violation of Article 4, Article 9, Article 19 and 19-A, and Article 89 of the Constitution," the petition said.

As the PECA ordinance violates the constitution, it is requested that this court declares it null and void for being unconstitutional, it added.

On Tuesday, the IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Tuesday remarked that it seemed like the prime minister had been misguided about the law.

While hearing a plea challenging the (PECA), the IHC chief justice took exception to the remarks made by Prime Minister Imran Khan in support of PECA Ordinance, saying it seemed like the prime minister had been misguided about the law.

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 court also clubbed all other petitions against PECA being heard by the same bench, and fixed the case’s hearing for March 10.