ISLAMABAD -The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday directed journalists bodies and other petitioners who challenged the amendments to Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA), to present final arguments.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the cases filed by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and others. Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadud, Deputy Attorney General Syed Tayyab Shah and others appeared before the court. At the outset of hearing, AAG said that the ordinance was issued on February 19.

They used to view the limitations under Article 89 of the constitution before issuance of the ordinance, he said. The chief justice remarked that it was not the power of executive not to place the ordinance before the house for approval. Additional Attorney General said that there was a timeline in the law to place the ordinance before the house. He also gave references to different judgments in the matter.

The court said that the government had to place the ordinance before both upper and lower houses of the Parliament. It also had impacts if the executive didn’t fulfil its constitutional responsibilities, Justice Minallah added.

The court noted that it was the ruling of the chairman senate that every ordinance has to be placed before the house for approval. The court further asked why section 20 of the PECA ordinance shouldn’t be terminated.

The chief justice remarked that there was a case of a journalist before this court. The FIA prepared a case against the journalist who only gave a reference to a book, he said.

The court said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was responsible to serve the public only as it was not a tool of the public officeholders.

There was no example in the world where any company or institution’s reputation was being protected in this way. The court sought final arguments from the petitioners’ lawyers and adjourned the case till April 1.