PML-N plea against PECA ordinance dismissed | The Express Tribune

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday dismissed a petition filed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) against the amendments in the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) to make defamation a criminal and non-bailable offence.

During the hearing, Chief Justice Athar Minallah said the high court could not accept the petition as the PML-N had a relevant forum, parliament, available to contest the changes in the law.

“The court respected all political parties and they should play their role to strengthen parliament,” Justice Minallah said, adding that political parties moving courts on such matters was disrespectful.

He said the courts should not meddle in political affairs.

The political parties, instead of submitting unnecessary petitions in the courts, should play their role in parliament, he said, adding that parliament can even amend the Constitution.

Read Govt defends PECA move amid heavy criticism

Justice Minallah said the court listened to other stakeholders — journalist bodies among them — as there was no other forum available to them, but political parties can go to parliament.

“We took up petitions against PECA on Thursday, listened to the attorney general as well,” the court said, adding that “symbolic hearings” on the pleas filed by political parties could not be conducted.

A day earlier, the high court grilled the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the federal government over its “oppressive and draconian” changes in the PECA law through an ordinance.

It asked the attorney general as to why the court should not declare Section 20 of PECA null and void.

The IHC CJ had observed that PECA was only used to target critics of the government. “It is being said with regret that the proceedings [under PECA] were initiated against those individuals who criticised the government.”

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