February 25, 2022 – Hearing the applications challenging the new PECA Ordinance on Thursday, Islamabad High Court rejected the petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) on the issue. Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that political parties have a reputation, they should strengthen the Parliament and perform their duties there instead of coming to the Court. For political parties to come here is a disrespect to the Parliament.
The Court addressed the lawyer representing PML-N and said that the actual stakeholders who had no alternative forum, have already challenged the PECA Ordinance. The Chief Justice said that the petitioner party has presence in the Parliament, they should make it powerful and should not bring unnecessary applications in courts. The Attorney General has already been heard in this matter, now final arguments have to be done.
The petitioner’s lawyer said that the Ordinance has to be placed before the house within 120 days, and we also want to assist the Court. Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that all the parties who have been in the government have issued ordinance in their tenure. Parliament has a lot of authority, it can even amend the Constitution. Political parties have the Parliament as their relevant forum and they should go there to perform their duties. The Court said that it assures that no other party’s application will be entertained in this matter as well.
On the other hand, the Court has extended its orders to FIA to not arrest anyone until March 10 in the petition filed by PFUJ. In its written order, the Court has put a new question before the Attorney General to answer in the next hearing. The order said that the Attorney General must satisfy the Court on why it should not declare criminal proceedings under PECA Ordinance a needless restriction? The written order further said that public officials and bodies cannot seek exceptions from public accountability, nor can they make criticism a matter of an attack on their reputation or their fundamental rights because it does not apply to them. The Court order said that the PECA Amendment Ordinance will only discourage free speech in the country.