KARACHI: A judicial magistrate on Wednesday sentenced a man to over five years in prison for uploading fake objectionable pictures of his colleagues on social media.

Former deputy director of the Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET), Jamshoro, Kashif Dars was found guilty of committing offences punishable under Sections 16 (tempering etc of communication equipment), 20 (malicious code) and 21 (cyber stalking) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 read with Section 419 (punishment for cheating by personation) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

On Wednesday, Judicial Magistrate (Malir) Gulraiz Memon pronounced his verdict reserved after recording evidence and final arguments from both sides.

The judge noted that the prosecution had successfully proved its case against the accused beyond a shadow of a doubt.

“Since, the accused belongs to a noble profession and first offender, hence taking lenient view he is convicted and sentenced for offence under the Section 21 of the PECA 2016 to suffer rigorous imprisonment for three years with a fine of Rs40,000,” the judge ruled.

The judge also sentenced him to one-year imprisonment with a fine of Rs40,000 for committing the offence of impersonation.

The judge also sentenced him to one-year imprisonment for committing offence of tempering of communication equipment and imposed a fine of Rs40,000.

He was also awarded six-month imprisonment for distributing or transmitting malicious code or information of the victim and imposed a fine of Rs40,000.

However, the judge while granting the benefit of Section 382-B (considering period of detention while awarding sentences) of the criminal procedure code ruled that all the sentences shall run concurrently.

According to the prosecution, complainant Ashfaq Ahmed, who is working as assistant director (publications and media) at the MUET, said that someone created and used three fake Facebook profiles — one under the name of Nighat Huma and two under the names of MUET Corruption — which contained his objectionable pictures with other employees of the varsity.

A team of the Federal Investigation Agency traced the IP address and arrested the accused, recovered a laptop, an external hard drive and two cell phones from his possession.

The FIA prosecutor argued that the accused himself had voluntarily admitted his guilt of creating fake Facebook IDs and uploading edited pictures, which forensic evidence was successfully recovered along with other equipment used in the offence.

In order to keep the sanctity of the evidence, the prosecutor maintained that certain protocols internationally prescribed were adopted to bring on record cogent evidence in shape of forensic analysis report and pleaded to the court to punish the accused according to the law.

In his statement recorded under Section 342 of the CrPC, the accused deposed that he worked on many key posts in the university, adding that then vice chancellor Dr Aslam Uqaily was expecting unlawful and illegal things but he did not compromise towards his duties.

He maintained that during his tenure as in charge (verification) he had caught a fake degree scam. He was forced to keep quiet but he reported the matter anyway.

He stated that when he was the general secretary of the Officers Welfare Association of MUET he had invited the director general of the National Accountability Bureau on World Anti-Corruption Day but he was asked by the varsity’s registrar to cancel the event.

He stated that the VC allegedly used his personal relations with a former additional director of the FIA to lodge a fake FIR against him.

He stated that during interrogation FIA official Abdul Ghaffar allegedly pressurise him to admit his guilt.

However, the judge noted that the accused could not point out any cogent and reliable evidence to completely deny ocular and documentary evidence produced by the prosecution.

He added that the plea of the accused that the VC had previous enmity was “totally unconvincing when this accused was traced out through documentary evidence by FIA officials”.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2022

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