Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday expressed displeasure over FIA’s notice to journalist Asad Ali Toor, who was beaten and injured by some unidentified persons inside his house last week.
The IHC also asked whether Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (Peca), 2016 is contradictory to articles 14, 19 and 19A of the Constitution. The court also sought assistance from the state’s top law officer and some senior lawyers to decide this question.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard proceedings over a petition filed by journalist Asad Ali Toor against a notice issued to him by the federal investigation agency (FIA).
The Court while showing displeasure once again said that there are laws in other countries also to prevent credibility maligning. But those states use laws in such a way that no one’s rights are damaged. This court is strictly observing how the FIA will use its jurisdiction.
The Court directed the FIA to completely go through Shiffa Yousufzai’s complaint. FIA should satisfy the court on the point that action should be taken. We will make this case a ‘test case’.
The Court rebuked FIA and maintained that the investigating body just issues notices without analyzing and going through the complaints.
The Court asked the Additional Attorney General and Pakistan Bar Council for their assistance in the case and ordered the FIA to submit its reply on June 20.
During the hearing, the court asked whether the FIA conducted any inquiry regarding Toor’s case. The FIA’s lawyer informed that the IHC had stopped the agency from investigating the matter.
The court, while showing annoyance over the reply, said that this court doesn’t stop anyone from any kind of investigation, but forbade it from issuing notices to people before the case becomes mature enough. The court also asked the lawyer, under which law the FIA had issued a notice to the journalist?
In response, the court was informed that the notice was issued under section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016, (PECA, 2016))
The IHC maintained that the investigation agency could send summon notices to a person who just talked randomly about the security environment.
The FIA’s lawyer responded that the person was ‘harming someone’s credibility’. Upon which, the IHC wondered how this tiny conversation could harm someone’s credibility. The lawyer further argued that the law prevents everyone from harming another person’s credibility.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that the court respects laws made by the Parliament. During the hearing, the IHC directed the FIA’s lawyer to go through section 20 and figure out when this law will be implacable.
The court maintained that this law will only be applicable when the affected person files a complaint himself, inquiring whether you go through the applicant’s complaint in Asad Toor’s case.
Did you find out that the complaint was valid? The court further inquired.
The appellant Shifa Yousufzai told the hearing that FIA is not further investigating the matter, upon which the IHC Chief Justice remarked that “we have not stopped FIA from holding investigations in this case”, but inquired, on what grounds a notice has been issued to the journalist?
The FIA’s lawyer informed the court that this case was from Rawalpindi.