Supreme Court sounds alarm over child pornography

Published November 28, 2021
This file photo shows the Supreme Court of Pakistan. — AFP/File
This file photo shows the Supreme Court of Pakistan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Saturday deplored that the most alarming social evil is child pornography that has wreaked havoc and poses a great threat to morality as well as the future of children.

“One of the reasons for the rise of child abuse/rape cases is squarely child pornographic content,” regretted Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi in a judgement he wrote.

A two-judge Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Naqvi had taken up an appeal of Umer Khan against the rejection of his bail application by the Peshawar High Court. The petitioner had sought post-arrest bail in a case registered against him under Section 22(1) of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 at a cyber crime reporting centre in Abbottabad.

Appeal of accused against PHC’s refusal to grant him bail rejected

Khan faces charges of sharing child pornographic content on social networking website Facebook. On receiving information from the website, the matter was inquired into by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and subsequently a first information report was registered and the petitioner arrested.

In his judgement, Justice Naqvi observed that there are concerns regarding child sexual abuse and exploitation in the past too, but due to various factors, the gravity and impact of the offence of child pornography is increasing at an alarming rate and this menace needs to be curbed with an iron fist.

Although the offence the petitioner had been charged with did not fall into the prohibitory clause of Section 497 of CrPC and the maximum punishment for the same is seven years, the nature of the accusation, its impact on society and the material collected so far merit the case to be included within the exception of granting bail when the offence falls within the non-prohibitory clause, the judgement explained.

It regretted that it is yet to be determined since when was the petitioner involved in spreading child pornography and how many videos he had shared so far. In any case, it added, it is a crime to “hollow out society”, therefore, the argument of the petitioner’s counsel was of no help. Even otherwise, this petition is barred by three days and no plausible explanation for the condonation of the delay has been given, the judgement said.

Consequently, the court dismissed the appeal with a directive to the trial court to proceed expeditiously and conclude the case as early as possible.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2021

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