Man held for online campaign against PM Imran, others gets bail – Pakistan

LAHORE: An additional district and sessions court on Monday granted bail to a PML-N activist who was arrested on the charge of “running a malicious campaign against Prime Minister Imran Khan, his wife Bushra Bibi and the army on social media”.

The first information report (FIR) alleged that Sabir Hashmi used derogatory and abusive language against the persons and the institution mentioned above through his Twitter account.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) cyber crime wing had booked Hashmi under sections 20, 21 (d) and 24 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (Peca).

In his order, Additional District & Sessions Judge Rai Yasin Shaheen observed, “I have gone through the record available on the file minutely where no objectionable, derogatory or abusive tweets were found against the prime minister and the Pakistan army.”

However, the judge noted that some retweets were made by the suspect/petitioner. The perusal of the tweets, the judge said, showed that they were first tweeted by some other person and retweeted by the petitioner.

In his arguments, the petitioner’s counsel Farhad Ali Shah contended that the retweet in question was made by some unidentified person by using the account of his client illegally.

The judge observed that it was an admitted fact that the FIA had conducted no inquiry before lodging the FIR, which was a violation of the relevant law. He said the petitioner belonged to an opposition party; therefore, his false implication in the case could not be ruled out. He observed that as far as the offence under Section 21 (d) of Peca was concerned, its ingredients were missing as per the record because no objectionable/explicit videos or pictures were available on file.

The judge noted that the investigating officer failed to probe the claim of the petitioner regarding the alleged misuse of his twitter account.

Allowing the bail petition, AD&SJ Shaheen observed that the petitioner was no longer required by the agency as the investigation had already been concluded and the prosecution was yet to establish the allegations through evidence.

The judge directed the petitioner to furnish bail bonds of Rs100,000 with one surety in the like amount.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2022

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