US blogger appeals judge’s FIR order

Published June 19, 2020
Says judge "has ignored the fact that under the FIA laws, registration of an FIR is not mandatory, it’s always subject to the result of an inquiry." — DawnNewsTV/File
Says judge "has ignored the fact that under the FIA laws, registration of an FIR is not mandatory, it’s always subject to the result of an inquiry." — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: US blogger Cynthia D. Ritchie on Thursday filed an appeal against the directive of a court to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to proceed against her in connection with the case of defaming former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on social media.

On June 15, additional district and sessions judge Mohammad Jahangir Awan had on a petition filed by Pakistan Peoples Party leader Raja Shakeel Abbasi directed the FIA to register a criminal case against Ms Ritchie.

Advocate Imran Feroz Malik, counsel for Ms Ritchie, filed the appeal against the judge’s order before the Islamabad High Court.

He contended in the petition that the sessions judge “has ignored the fact that under the FIA laws, registration of an FIR is not mandatory, it’s always subject to the result of an inquiry, and the FIA has been vested with the power to refuse to register the FIR if during inquiry the information is found to be false, hence an order directing the FIA to register FIR is otherwise against the express provisions of law, hence it is liable to be set aside.”

Mr Malik pointed out that the FIA had initially “discarded [the complaint] on the ground of locus standi [right of audience] as the complainant was not an aggrieved person within the meaning of Prevention of Cyber Crime Act, 2016”, adding that even then the sessions judge directed the FIA to proceed with the registration of an FIR.

Complainant Abbasi had taken the stance before the sessions judge that since Ms Ritchie “passed extremely derogatory remarks” against Ms Bhutto, the FIA did not entertain his application seeking registration of an FIR against the blogger.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2020

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