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PECA Ordinance declared unconstitutional by IHC

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah says law targets critics of government

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has delivered its judgment on Friday on the petitions filed against the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) Ordinance 2022, declaring that it was against the law.

President Dr. Arif Alvi disseminated an ordinance in February to amend the PECA law as the government moved to curb “fake news”.

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Experts and journalists condemned the move saying that it was aimed at silencing dissent on social media and shackling the media.

During the proceedings, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that the law was enforced against the critics of the government. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address showed that he was miscommunicated on the issue, he added.

The court had made similar comments during March 30 hearing. What would be the justification for the “power of arrest” under amended Section 20 of PECA? the court asked. “If a journalist quoted from a book, how would section 20 apply to him? The FIA itself has created a case to declare the section null and void,” it added.

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IHC had earlier declared PECA Amendment Ordinance 2022 as ‘draconian law’ in February.

IHC had also stopped the authorities from carrying out arrests under the Section 20 of PECA Amendment Bill 2022.

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