Post-arrest bail plea of man in child pornographic content case dismissed by IHC

Published January 9, 2021
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday rejected a post-arrest bail application of a man charged with disseminating child pornographic content on social media.  — Creative Commons/File
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday rejected a post-arrest bail application of a man charged with disseminating child pornographic content on social media. — Creative Commons/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday rejected a post-arrest bail application of a man charged with disseminating child pornographic content on social media.

The decision was announced by Justice Tariq Mehood Jahangiri.

The accused, Irfan Sarwar, had sought bail after his arrest under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca).

As per the First Information Report (FIR), Irfan Sarwar created/operated Facebook and WhatsApp groups for the sole purpose of uploading/sharing and disseminating child pornographic videos/pictures and was also found to be the administrator of a Facebook group.

Another report submitted to the court by the director general, Ministry of Human Rights, stated that the Facebook authorities reported that the WhatsApp and Facebook groups were used to publicly transmit, share and possess pornographic videos/photos of minors.

Accused operated social media groups for disseminating child pornographic videos and pictures

The counsel for the petitioner argued that his client was an illiterate person and had been implicated in the case. He said the offences did not fall under the prohibitory clause and the investigation had been completed and no recovery made from the petitioner. The petitioner is behind bars for the last two months and is no longer required by the police for investigation. Therefore, he is entitled to the grant of post-arrest bail, the counsel said.

However, a law officer of the state said sufficient evidence was available against the petitioner. According to a forensic report, it transpired that the petitioner had created the Facebook and WhatsApp groups for the sole purpose of uploading, sharing and disseminating child pornographic pictures.

The accused is found to be administrator of the Facebook group linked with a fake profile having the URL as mentioned in the FIR. The WhatsApp group was created on a mobile phone number registered in the name of the petitioner/accused. SIM of the mobile number was issued in the name of the accused.

Justice Tariq Jahangiri observed: “It is not a rule of universal application. Each case has to been seen through its own facts and circumstances.”

If an offence does not fall within the prohibitory clause of section 497(1) of the CrPC it does not mean that such an offence has become bailable, he observed.

“The instigation and distribution of child pornography is patently offensive, extremely and heinous atrociously harmful for the society. We must not normalise and ignore its far going consequences in the society and its children. The impact of child pornography on the society is remarkable and enforces the normalisation of child exploitation by way of providing them safety and protection. The impact of child pornography on child is unimaginable and long term daunting consequence on the child,” the court noted.

“The chief of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children has reported that “Each and every time an image of a child being sexually assaulted is traded, printed or downloaded from websites, the child depicted in the photo is re-victimised,” the court noted.

“Considering the above facts and circumstances, I am clear in my mind that the petitioner has failed to make out his case for grant of bail on the ground of further inquiry as envisaged under section 497(2) CrPC. Consequently, the instant bail petition stands dismissed,” the court order declared.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2021

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