What changes have been made in the law with the new Electronic Crimes Ordinance?

President Dr. Arif Alvi has issued an ordinance amending the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016. Under which ridicule of any person, company, party, organization, authority and any institution established by the government has been declared as an inviolable police crime.

Under the ordinance, four basic amendments have been made in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, while a whole new section has been added and some clauses have been amended.

The ordinance has been named as 'Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance 2022' which has come into force immediately.

Section 2 of the Pika Ordinance includes a new clause to add a new definition of the individual. Under which any person means any company, party, organization, authority and any institution established by the government.

Under the Electronic Crimes Act 2016, the exemption granted to PEMRA licensed TV channels has been abolished. After which fake news or ridicule about any person on television will also come under the category of electronic crime.

Similarly, a person who gives fake news will be punished for five years instead of three years while any person other than the affected person has been given the option to file a case against such news.

Under the new ordinance, the offense would be non-bailable.

The case has to be decided as soon as possible but the maximum period has been fixed at six months. The trial court will submit a progress report of the case to the concerned high court every month and will inform about the reasons and obstacles for delay in the case.

The trial court will be obliged to provide copies of the report to the Secretary Law in case it is from Islamabad and also to the Secretary Prosecution Department, Prosecutor General and Advocate General in case of any case related to the province.

The High Court will be asked to remove the obstacles if it feels that there are obstacles in disposing of the case expeditiously.

Federal and provincial governments and officials will be asked to remove obstacles. The Chief Justice of each High Court will nominate a judge and officers for these cases.

On the other hand, the President has also issued an ordinance to amend the Election Act. Under which members of all Assemblies, Senate and local governments will be able to speak during the election campaign. Any public office holder and elected representative will be able to visit the constituency.

The proposed law contradicts the requirements of democracy: the Human Rights Commission

Earlier on Sunday, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) had termed the law declaring criticism of the government and the state on social media as a non-bailable offense against democratic values.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement on its official Twitter account that the proposed law, which would increase the sentence from two to five years and make it a non-bailable offense, is anti-democratic.

"(The proposed law) will be used to silence dissent and criticism of the government and the state."

Responding to a question about the Human Rights Commission's concerns over the law, Federal Law Minister Forough Naseem said, "If the HRCP has read the proposed law properly, I am sure they will reconsider their position." The HRCP cannot say that you should run fake news and not be punished.

"If the NAB or any other department makes an allegation against someone, even if it proves to be false, the victim can go to court," he added.

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