April 8, 2022 — The Islamabad High Court has declared PECA Amendment Ordinance 2022 invalid and has struck it down, in a hearing of the petitions challenging the Ordinance filed by various parties, including the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and former Senator Farhatullah Babar. The Court has also declared part of the language used in Section 20 of PECA under which the PECA Amendment Ordinance was drafted, unconstitutional and has struck it down as well.
In addition to this, the Court has also quashed the cases filed by the FIA under Section 20 of PECA. The Chief Justice Athar Minallah, in the order, maintained that freedom of expression is a fundamental right, whereas, suppression of this right is against the Constitution of Pakistan and the democracy.
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The Islamabad High Court further said that because the PECA Amendment Ordinance is unconstitutional and so it is being declared invalid. Along with this, the Court has also declared the punishments under Section 20 of PECA that criminalises defamation unconstitutional.
The Court has also ordered an inquiry against the FIA Cyber Crime Wing officials who misused the powers given to the authority under PECA, and directed the Secretary Ministry of Interior to conclude this inquiry and submit the report within 30 days of the order.
The Chief Justice Athar Minallah, in his precise order, said that the Court hopes the Federal Government will also review the defamation laws in the country, particularly the Defamation Ordinance 2002, and will work to make their implementation effective. The Court has also maintained that freedom of expression is a fundamental right, and an important one for the success and prosperity of society.