A district court on Wednesday extended for a week the interim pre-arrest bail of journalist Shahzeb Jillani who is charged with criticising state institutions on TV.
Jillani, currently working with Dunya News, was booked by the Federal Investigation Agency on cyber terrorism and defamation allegations on a complaint filed by a lawyer, Moulvi Iqbal Haider.
Haider lodged an FIR on April 6, claiming that Jillani gave “defamatory remarks against respected institutions” during a programme Dunya Kamran Khan Kay Sath on Dunya News on December 8, 2017.
He said that Jillani accused security and law enforcement agencies of kidnapping citizens. He added that similar remarks were repeated by the journalist during a TV programme on March 18. He accused the journalist of working for “foreign agencies” and spreading hate against the state and its institutions on social media. At the outset of the hearing, Jillani appeared before South district and sessions judge Imdad Hussain Khoso to seek confirmation of his interim bail.
The FIA investigation officer (IO), however, did not appear for the second consecutive time. Also, the FIA prosecutor expressed inability to argue on the matter, contending that the case’s papers were with the IO and he was not available at the moment. He requested the judge to adjourn the matter.
Meanwhile, the journalist’s counsel asked for an extension of the bail of his client, which the judge entertained and put off the matter till April 24, directing the IO to ensure his presence at the next hearing.
The court had granted the journalist interim bail before arrest against a surety of Rs100,000. He is booked under sections 500 (defamation), 109 (abetment) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code 1860, read with sections 10a (cyber terrorism), 11 (electronic forgery) and 20 (malicious code) of the Pakistan Electronic Crime Act, 2016.