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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) has strongly condemned the amendments brought about to the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 (PECA), saying that such amendments to PECA through an Ordinance are a colourable exercise of power by the President of Pakistan and the Federal Law Minister.

The SHCBA in an emergent meeting held on Monday resolved that firstly, Parliament is brought into recess to permit the signing-off on a ‘Black Law’ in the dark of night, which, in the first instance, would never have seen the light of day had Parliament been in session.

Secondly, the Ordinance is yet another instance of a delinquent Law Ministry pandering to the self-serving egos of those that wish to rule in an autocratic manner - oppressing any reasonable criticisms as “fake news”.

The meeting also said the SHCBA finds most alarming is that by virtue of these oppressive amendments, the so-called ‘sacred cows’ in authority that wish to be above all and any criticism (whether in the discharge of their public duties or in their personal affairs), could bring about an action to sue any critic through a proxy/ member of the public.

As, it added, if it was not bad enough for the public to witness the unnecessary and shameful litigation against an Honourable Judge of the Supreme Court and his noble wife by one such so-called public-spirited person, who, introduced himself to the Hon’ble Supreme Court as a ‘tout’ and we now have to contend with a Black Law that wants to provide protection to such delinquents. The authors of this legislation have, once more, embarked on another misadventure, instead of looking upon the need for consensus and nation-building

“This Association is of the firm view that Article 89 of the Constitution of Pakistan may only be invoked by the President of Pakistan if and when there are circumstances which render it absolutely necessary to take immediate action; however, no such emergent circumstances exist that would require draconian punishments and threats of speedy trials to punish critics of those in public authority.”

It said the Ordinance tramples the fundamental right to free speech (Article 19) that every citizen of Pakistan must have and is the type of legislation that is the preserve of fascist and dictatorial regimes.

The meeting also called upon all bar associations across Pakistan to condemn this black law and call upon Parliament to use its legislative powers effectively to strengthen this nation, rather than allow it to side down the path of oppression.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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