LAHORE: Lahore High Court has been urged to issue directives to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for submission of its biannual performance reports to Parliament under Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016.
Making Federal government through Secretary Interior and the FIA through Additional Director General Cybercrime Wing Islamabad as respondents in the matter the petitioner Ramis Sohail said the objective of enactment of PECA 2016 was to make the public safe and provide a sense of security to the public while accessing the internet.
Counsel in the matter, Usama Khawar Ghumman said on Wednesday that violation of objective of the enactment of PECA 2016 has endangered a sense of insecurity among the public at large.
Terming recent reports of a crackdown in the name of cybersecurity as worrying Usama Khawar Ghumman said that the FIA has conducted 2,295 inquiries, registered 255 cases and made 209 arrests in just the first ten months of 2018.
The petitioner alleged that the FIA has cracked down on the journalists who perform their duty of the “fourth pillar of the state” and refuse to toe the official government line.
Advocate Ghumman submitted that the legislature being aware of possible abuses of the PECA 2016 has provided certain safeguards in order to protect the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 9, 10, 10-A, 14, 16, 17, 19, and 19A of the Constitution.
He said that these safeguards include that the FIA will submit biannual reports to the Parliament under Section 53 of the 2016 Act, adding that Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees to every citizen the right to freedom of speech and expression, and it also guarantees freedom of the press and Article 19A provide guarantee for the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance.
“These rights are at the heart of democratic ethos of our Constitution. The absence of parliamentary oversight and the FIA refusal to comply with the requirements of the law is resulting in large-scale systematic denial of fundamental rights to a large number of citizens.