Court Suspends Arrests Under PECA Presidential Ordinance

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has nullified the amendments recently introduced to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 by the federal government through a Presidential Order.

The verdict emerged earlier today during the hearing of a case filed by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) against the PECA Amendment Ordinance 2022.

In a brief verdict, a single-member bench consisting of Chief Justice IHC, Justice Athar Minallah, barred the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from arresting individuals under section 20 of PECA 2016 for an indefinite period of time.

While adjourning the hearing till tomorrow, Justice Athar summoned the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) at the next hearing to assist the court in the case. He also decided to hold a joint hearing of all similar petitions from the next hearing.

Last week, the federal government promulgated a Presidential Ordinance that amended the PECA 2016, declaring the dissemination of fake news a non-bailable offense.

Besides IHC, the PECA Amendment Ordinance 2022 has been challenged in the Lahore High Court (LHC) as well by Advocate Rana Ayyub Khawer who has contended that the freedom of expression is a fundamental right in a democratic country and the ordinance goes against it.