Urdu update here | English translation by Romessa Nadeem
Islamabad, May 7, 2021: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued a notice to the Attorney General (AG) for judicial assistance in a case against the FIA for violating its powers under the Cyber Crimes Act. The question is whether section 20 of the Cyber Crimes Act is unconstitutional. Senior counsel Hamid Khan, Abid Hassan Manto and Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council have also been appointed as judicial assistants in the matter.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition of journalist Asad Toor against the issuance of notice by the FIA. The court questioned whether section 20 of the Cyber Crimes Act contradicted Articles 14, 19 and 19A of the Constitution.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that FIA notices are the worst example of censorship. He said that if action is taken on the criticism, the matter will not stop. He also said that if the opposition leader makes a case that the Prime Minister insulted me, will the FIA issue notice to the Prime Minister? He remarked that the FIA has always acted unilaterally and we have never seen the FIA make a case against a government official.
Addressing the FIA, the court said to research how many countries in the world have made allegations of insult a criminal offense? The court noted that whenever there is an attempt to make criticism a criminal law in the world, the court has declared it null and void. It said that if you start issuing notices, no one in the country will speak. Journalists and anchors criticize someone every day. If such notices are issued, everyone will have to stop.
During the hearing, the judge also said that there were a lot of insulting conversations about this court but the FIA never took action. A picture of the judge with a sitting Supreme Court judge went viral and all kinds of comments were left on it.
Lawyers Usman Warraich and Iman Mazari appeared in the case against the FIA’s notice issued to journalist Asad Toor. The court sought a reply from the Attorney General, aides and the FIA and adjourned the hearing till after Eid.