Freedom of expression and chains of law

Written by The Frontier Post

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Director General Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and Inspector General of Police Islamabad to submit reports in journalists’ complaint cases. A three-member Supreme Court bench heard the suo moto notice case regarding highhandedness by FIA Cyber Crime Wing. According to reports, the Court directed the DG FIA to submit a report on cases against journalists in a year.

The court also ordered IG Islamabad to submit a detailed report about attacks on journalists in a year. During the hearing, the DG FIA said that the agency believes in freedom of the press but regulates it under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA). DG FIA told the court that the agency received 27 complaints against journalists in four years and only 4 complaints turned into inquiries and cases were registered. Justice Ijaz observed that FIA used to act first and later fulfill the legal procedures. According to him, the FIA should lodge an FIR under clear procedures. Chairman PEMRA, Saleem Baig, said that PEMRA acts on violations of the Code of Conduct and Rules.

Freedom of Expression is the basic right of every citizen of the country, which is not only protected by the country’s constitution, but all international and human rights laws guarantee this right of every free man and woman. In fact, every human being wants to exercise this law with full authority, but no one has the patience to respect others’ right of free expression. The problem lies here, when an individual’s thoughts/ opinion hurts others, defames government’s institutions, or appears to be a contempt of court, then the people sitting in high offices act to tighten the public right in chain. The Country’s top Court is ambitiously working to protect freedom of the press and has informed the government executives about the boundaries set in the constitution. The regulator’s claim of regulating is acceptable, but terrorization of media men is far away from regulatory measures mentioned in PECA and PEMRA acts. Hopefully, the adjudicators would resolve the issue according to the law, however, if everyone remains within his boundary, no such situation would exist.

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The Frontier Post

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