The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday struck down the controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022, terming it “unconstitutional”.
The petition against the Peca ordinance was heard by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah. The petition was filed by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).
President Dr Arif Alvi promulgated an ordinance in February to amend the PECA law as the government moved to curb “fake news”. According to journalists and experts, the government’s move aimed to silence dissent on social media and control the media.
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, had filed the petition through senior lawyer Munir A Malik.
Justice Minallah said the Peca ordinance was “promulgated in derogation of the Constitution and the fundamental rights guaranteed thereunder, particularly Articles 9, 14, 19 and 19-A”. The jurisdictional preconditions were also not in existence, he observed.
The court also quashed the proceedings against the petitioners.
“The Federal Government is expected to review the defamation laws, particularly the Defamation Ordinance, 2002 and thereafter propose appropriate legislation to the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) for making its implementation effective,” the court order stated.
IHC CJ Athar Minallah also directed the Interior Ministry to probe the conduct of the officials of the Cyber Crime Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency, which had led to widespread abuse of powers and the consequent grave violations of the fundamental rights of the citizens.
The secretary has been ordered to submit the report within thirty days.