The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the government not to make arrests under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (Peca) and adjourned hearing for Thursday (tomorrow).

Chief Justice Athar Minallah is hearing a petition filed by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) against the Peca Ordinance.

Advocate Adil Aziz Qazi, on behalf of the PFUJ, argued that the Senate session ended on February 17 and the National Assembly was called on February 18. The session was adjourned only to bring the ordinance.

Counsel for the petitioner said that what were the circumstances under which the ordinance was hastily issued?

The court remarked that FIA has already submitted SOPs. It should make no arrest on any complaint under Section 20. The court warned that if SOPs were not complied with, the FIA director general and home secretary would be held responsible.

The court issued notice to the Attorney General for Pakistan for assistance on the petition against the amendment to Peca through a presidential ordinance for Thursday.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked that there should be no defamation law for a public representative.

The Chief Justice said that Zimbabwe and Uganda have also removed the defamation from the criminal law.

Advocate Qazi said that even those who call themselves public representatives should not be afraid of criticism.


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