Cyber Law changes assailed in High Courts

Lawyers’ bodies come down hard on govt, vow to defend right to freedom of expression, media

ISLAMABADILAHORE: Premier lawyers’ bodies across the country have stepped up to denounce the government for introducing oppressive amendments to the controversial electronic crimes law, which have been challenged in the Islamabad and Lahore high courts and are set to land in the apex court soon for curbing basic freedoms and fundamental rights of the people. On Tuesday, the presidential ordinance that criminalizes online defamation was challenged in the Islamabad High Court (THC) by a faction of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), and will be taken up by THC Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Wednesday (today). The petition states that the respondents tried to sicak in amendments to Pech at the eleventh hour when only a day

before the promulgation of the ordinance, the Senate was in session. It appears the respondents had already prepared the draft of the ordinance and were waiting for the session to end so they could circumvent the due process of legislation. The petition states the respondents have omitted an important proviso in the amendment and the scope of regulation by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority in case of broadcast media has been done away with. The Constitution calls for promoting democratic values in the country and ensuring fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression, as well as of the press, it adds. On Monday, Chief Justice Minallalh, while hearing a petition filed by meclia personality Mohsin Baie, had expressed displeasure over the misuse of Peca by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and put its Cyber Crimes Wing Director Babar Bakht Qureshi on notice.


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