Supreme Court halts criminal proceedings against singer Meesha Shafi
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The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ordered to stop criminal proceedings against actress and model Meesha Shafi while hearing her petition against Section 20 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Ordinance, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
The Supreme Court issued restraining order in the criminal case on the request of Meesha Shafi and stopped criminal proceedings against her over defamation charges till next hearing.
The apex court, however, said that the civil case against Meesha Shafi would continue.
The court also issued notices to the attorney general and advocate general of Punjab and adjourned hearing of the case for an indefinite period of time.
A two-member SC bench, headed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, heard the case.
“One high court declared Section 20 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) null and void while the Lahore High Court (LHC) upheld it,” Justice Qazi Faez Isa said.
“What is the constitutional status of conflicting decisions of two high courts?” he questioned.
“Is defamation suit filed under criminal law?” he questioned further.
“A defamation suit is of civil nature. Fine is imposed if it is proved,” Saqib Jilani, lawyer for Meesha Shafi, told the SC bench.
“Is Section 20 of PECA contrary to Article 19 of the Constitution?” Justice Faez Isa questioned.
“If someone calls someone a thief or a murderer, will he be punished for just saying that?” he questioned further.
Sibtain Fazli, lawyer for Ali Zafar, said that defamation suits were filed all over the world and punishments were handed down.
“Talk about Pakistani law. Don’t give examples of cases like Johnny Depp in our system,” said Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
“Why are you making freedom of expression a criminal act?” questioned Justice Faez Isa.
“Nowadays, if you watch any channel, you will hear chants of thief thief,” added he.
“Why are judges also being blamed?” he questioned further.
Lawyer for Ali Zafar said that all those campaigns fell in the category of defamation.
“If a thief is called a thief, will he also be punished?” questioned Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
“The FIA goes blind on televised statements of banned organisations. The FIA is not bothered by the statements of the banned organisations, but it takes on a mere tweet,” he stated.
Reporter Amanat Gishkori