ISLAMABAD, March 18, 2021: In a hearing on March 10, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has directed the Director General (DG) Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to conduct an inquiry against the responsible officials for misusing their powers under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA). Chief Justice Athar Minallah instructed the head of the FIA to submit a detailed report before April 6. The court ruled that the FIA itself was violating the Electronic Crimes Act, and that this was not the first time.
This development came to light during the hearing of a dispute between Kanwal Shauzab, a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and National Assembly, and Abdul Rehman, a citizen, on social media. Both parties reached a settlement, but the Court has kept the case pending for a detailed ruling on FIA powers.
CJ Athar Minallah asked the Additional Director FIA who appeared before the Court what complaint he had in the case. He inquired about why the Additional Director took notice on this particular case and why action should not be taken against him. The Additional Director FIA said that the notice was issued with the approval of the District Magistrate, and the case was before his arrival. CJ Athar Minallah remarked that FIA has taken upon itself to become tools for superior powers and harass citizens. The FIA itself violated the Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and this is not the first time it has breached PECA, the Court said. CJ added that the court will not allow the FIA to abuse its powers.
CJ Athar Minallah also said that the FIA should refrain from harassing citizens. He said that the notice in this case was issued only because the woman who complained was an MNA, while the FIA never acts on the request of ordinary citizens to grant them relief. The Court noted that the DG FIA should complete an inquiry against those responsible and submit a detailed report.
It should be kept in mind that the FIA had issued notice to the citizen who had uploaded pictures of Kanwal Shauzab ‘s husband cutting trees on the complaint of Kanwal Shauzab herself, after which the citizen approached the High Court. The parties settled the dispute after the case came to Court, but the Court ruled that the FIA should issue a detailed ruling on its powers over social media in the case.