Report asks IHC to declare PECA Section 20 in violation of Freedom of Expression

Urdu version of the story here.

September 16, 2021 — In a hearing regarding a case about social media in Islamabad High Court (IHC), the Judicial Assistant Advocate Adnan Randhawa submitted a detailed report discussing the constitutionality of the defamation law against social media users under PECA. The report states that section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 that criminalises defamation violates constitutional rights of freedom expression and freedom of the press. It mentions that section 20 is against the fundamental rights, and claims that through the addition of this section, the parliamentarians have exceeded constitutional limits. Advocate Randhawa, after a detailed review of section 20, requested the Court to repeal the section.

The report that was prepared on orders of the Court further mentions that section 20 is an attempt to strip citizens and journalists off their right to freedom of expression and press by giving Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) blanket powers to curtail these rights. It said that FIA can abuse these powers while the constitution does not allow this. Section 20 took away the legal protections prescribed under the British law that was in effect before PECA and has made exercise of right to freedom of expression almost impossible in the country.

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