PTA also can’t proceed against US blogger, court told

Published June 14, 2020
A Islamabad additional district and sessions judge is hearing a criminal case against US blogger Cynthia D. Ritchie. — Twitter/File
A Islamabad additional district and sessions judge is hearing a criminal case against US blogger Cynthia D. Ritchie. — Twitter/File

ISLAMABAD: The additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) of Islamabad on Saturday reserved a judgement on a petition seeking registration of a criminal case against US blogger Cynthia D. Ritchie, likely to be announced on June 15.

The Pakistan Telecommu­nication Authority (PTA) during Saturday’s proceedings expressed its inability to proceed against Ms Ritchie.

The PTA took the stance before ADSJ Jahangir Awan that the authority lacked the jurisdiction to proceed aga­inst an individual over an alleged controversial tweet.

The PTA, however, suggested that in case there is any criminality related to Ms Ritchie’s official social media accounts then there is a cybercrime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to handle this.

According to PTA, its officials have initiated actions against some controversial websites.

Earlier, the FIA opposed registration of FIR in this matter and claimed that the petitioner had no locus standi [right of audience] to become complainant in the mater for invoking the provisions of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act [Peca], 2016.

The Act said that, “bare reading of the law would reveal that only an aggrieved neutral person or his guardian can lodge a complaint. The right provided in subsection (2) to the aggrieved person or his guardian, in case the aggrieved person is a minor for applying the authority for removal of contents further substantiate that in the case under discussion, law can be set in motion only on the complaint of either an aggrieved ‘natural person’ or his guardian.”

Subsequently, FIA requested “that the instant petition may be dismissed”.

The PPP’s Islamabad president, Advocate Raja Sha­keel Abbasi, had filed the petition before Additional District and Sessions Judge Atta Rabbani under Section 22-A of the Criminal Proce­dure Code, seeking registration of an FIR against Ms Ritchie for allegedly defaming the slain PPP chairperson and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on social media.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2020

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