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IHC dismisses controversial tweet case against citizen, says ‘FIA made mockery of state’

IHC says use of controversial trend’s hashtags is not a crime

November 13, 2022
A picture of Islamabad High Court. — IHC webiste
A picture of Islamabad High Court. — IHC webiste 

ISLAMABAD: Reprimanding the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA), the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Saturday dismissed a case lodged against a citizen named Kashif Fareed, for using a controversial trend’s hashtag.

IHC’s Justice Babar Sattar issued the verdict on a petition filed by Kashif Fareed seeking quashing of the case registered against him by the FIA. The IHC declared that the use of controversial trend’s hashtags is not a crime.

"The [controversial] tweet was not defamatory to any individual and consequently Section 500 and 501 are not attracted in view of the allegations in the FIR," read the judgement.

It added that a complaint under Section 505 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) could only be registered by the federal or provincial government's order or by an officer empowered by them, which declared the FIR's registration to be done "without lawful authority".

Merely tweeting a trend does not constitute an offence, remarked the judge.

The verdict also stated that a case cannot be made unless something is inappropriate in the words written by the person who has tweeted.

The purpose of filing such an FIR against a citizen is only to curb freedom of speech and illegal censorship. The FIA has made a mockery of the state by registering this case, the court's judgement mentioned.

The verdict mentioned that it is "inconceivable" how the tweet, due to which a complaint was filed against the petitioner, could "cause fear or alarm within the public causing a member of public to commit an offence against the state or against the public".

The citizen feared that tweeting with the trend might lead to extra-legal action and FIA actually filed a criminal case, which is unimaginable, the verdict read.

The court's judgement added that it is tragic to instil doubts in the public's mind through this move. The judge directed the FIA and the interior ministry to fulfil their basic responsibility of protecting citizens, rather than getting involved in such cases.

Any challan submitted in any court with regards to the case registered against the citizen and its procedure was declared void in the judgement.