Urdu version of the story here.
September 20, 2021 – In a hearing in Islamabad High Court (IHC), Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadud informed the court that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has accepted the error it made in issuing notice to senior journalist and former PEMRA chairperson Absar Alam under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016. Wadud informed that the notice from FIA has been revoked and the case against Absar Alam has been closed.
Wadud requested the Court that now that FIA has closed the case, the Court should also dismiss the case against FIA that was registered by Absar Alam for issuing the notice to him. However, while rejecting the request, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that this case will be heard alongside the pending cases regarding FIA’s notices to journalists, and will be heard on September 27.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Athar Minallah questioned FIA and asked why the notice was issued in the first place. He remarked that FIA should only issue notices under PECA after it has trained its officers to implement the law, and further said that arbitrarily issuing these notices can be seen as unnecessary harassment of journalists.
Lawyer Usman Warraich who is representing Absar Alam in the Court, asked that FIA should inform them of the premise on which the notice was issued to his client. The Court responded that since the FIA has accepted that it was a mistake, it is important that the agency now improve it processes as well. The Court iterated that the case by Absar Alam is not being closed yet and will be heard alongside other cases against FIA on September 27.