SC stops FIA from arresting journalists

In Local
March 28, 2024


A three member bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Wednesday not to arrest any journalist till the next hearing of the suo motu case against the alleged harassment of journalists.

During the hearing, the lawyer for the Press Association of the Supreme Court, Barrister Salahuddin, argued that action was taken against journalists in the name of violation of privacy. The chief justice asked the lawyer how he would define ‘privacy’.

Salahuddin said that the FIA had become accustomed to the misuse of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA). He added that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had declared PECA’s Section 20 null and void. He replied in negative, when the chief justice asked whether the decision was challenged.

The chief justice noted that the notices to the journalists were issued under Section 160 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which was before the registration of any first information report (FIR). He asked the lawyer, why he thought of the registration of the FIR because of the notice.

The chief justice pointed out that many times there was a pressure from the above, so the officials send a notice to ward off the pressure, yet no FIR was registered and no arrest was made. Under this notice, he added, they could call anyone as witness.

Chief Justice Isa then told the lawyer that the court would not invalidate a legal process, adding that it would invalidate something only if it was proved illegal. He then asked the lawyer where was violation of the law in the issuance of the notice.

The defence counsel said that it was important that complete details of the case be provided along with the notice. He added that notice could be sent only if the FIR has been registered. The chief justice remarked that maybe the official was calling someone to verify the facts.

Later, the court adjourned the hearing till April 2 and declared that the FIA should not arrest the journalists until the next hearing.

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