HomeNationalIHC declares Peca Amendment Ordinance as unconstitutional MIGMG News

IHC declares Peca Amendment Ordinance as unconstitutional MIGMG News

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The Islamabad High Court on Friday declared the Peca Amendment Ordinance as unconstitutional, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued a four-page order in the afternoon after hearing identical petitions filed against the Peca ordinance and its section 20, which criminalises defamation.

Justice Minallah in his written order said that freedom of expression was a fundamental right and reinforces all other rights guaranteed under the Constitution. Free speech and the right to receive information are essential for development, progress and prosperity of a society, he said, adding that their suppression was “unconstitutional and contrary to the democratic values”.

“The criminalization of defamation, protection of individual reputations through arrest and imprisonment and the resultant chilling effect violates the letter of the Constitution and the invalidity thereof is beyond reasonable doubt,” the IHC order stated.

Justice Minallah said the Peca ordinance was “promulgated in derogation of the Constitution and the fundamental rights guaranteed thereunder, particularly Articles 9, 14, 19 and 19-A”. The jurisdictional preconditions were also not in existence, he observed.

The IHC CJ declared the Peca ordinance and its promulgation as “unconstitutional” and struck it down. He further declared “the offense under section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 to the extent of the expression ‘or harms the reputation'” unconstitutional.

The court earlier in the day reserved the verdict on the petitions challenging the Peca Amendment Ordinance.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the case. While hearing the arguments, the judge remarked that the rights of people were being trampled, somebody must be held accountable. He observed that the Federal Investigation Agency had violated the SOPs and registered cases under such clauses which were ridiculous.

He asked the FIA ​​under which law it got people arrested before even registering a case against them.

“Surveillance of journalists is being carried out. Is this the work, the FIA ​​is supposed to do, ”the CJ wondered.

Earlier, the FIA ​​submitted its report to the court.

In his remarks during the last hearing on the Peca Amendment Ordinance on March 30, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said since the government had not laid the Peca Amendment Ordinance before the Parliament it gave an impression of mala fide intention on the part of the executive.

The IHC heard a set of petitions filed by Pakistan Broadcasting Association, Pakistan Federation Union Journalists, other media organizations and senior journalists challenging the Peca Amendment Ordinance.

During the last hearing, the additional attorney general told the court that the Peca Ordinance was promulgated on Feb 18 and was put on official gazette on Feb 19.

On this, CJ Minallah had remarked that the executive was required to lay the ordinance before the Parliament. It smacks of mala fide intention on the part of executive when it did not lay the ordinance before the parliament, the judge observed.

Reporter Ehtisham Kiyani

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