The Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled on Saturday that using a contentious trend’s hashtag is not a crime and rejected a similar case filed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against a citizen.
The IHC’s Justice Babar Sattar granted a motion to dismiss brought by a person named Kashif Fareed. “Because the disputed tweet was not derogatory to any individual, Section 500 and 501 are not invoked in light of the claims in the FIR,” the court ruled.
It went on to say that a complaint under Section 505 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) could only be registered by a federal or provincial government order or by an officer authorized by them, and that the FIR was made “without lawful authority.” He stated in the written decision that just tweeting a trend does not constitute an offense. The ruling further noted that no case could be filed unless anything objectionable was written by the individual who tweeted.
The only reason for filing such a FIR against a person is to restrict free expression and illegal censorship. The FIA has made a mockery of the state by registering this case, according to the court’s decision.
According to the ruling, it is “inconceivable” that the tweet that prompted the complaint against the petitioner could “create fear or panic within the public, prompting a member of the public to conduct an act against the state or against the public.”
The person was concerned that tweeting along with the trend would result in extra-legal action, and the FIA actually initiated a criminal case, which is unthinkable, according to the judgement.
The court’s decision further stated that it was terrible to sow doubts in the minds of the public by this action. Rather than getting engaged in such situations, the judge instructed the FIA and the Interior Ministry to fulfill their core role of safeguarding civilians.
The verdict rendered invalid any challan produced in any court in relation to the case registered against the citizen and its proceedings.