Cabinet approves law seeking seven-year jail term for individuals spreading hate on social media

Amendment authorises FIA to take action against individuals sharing hateful content on social media

By
Asif Bashir Chaudhary
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet in this undated photo. — APP/File
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet in this undated photo. — APP/File

  • Amendment authorises FIA to take action against individuals sharing hateful content on social media.
  • Proposal also recommends inclusion of Section 505 of Pakistan Penal Code in FIA Act. 
  • Cabinet approved the amendments in the FIA Act through a summary moved via circulation. 


ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Wednesday approved an amendment imposing seven-year imprisonment for those spreading hateful content on social media.

Under the amendment, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been authorised to take action against such individuals.

The proposal has also recommended the inclusion of Section 505 of the Pakistan Penal Code in the FIA Act. Once the amendment is approved, FIA will also have the authority to take action on any kind of fake news and rumours on social media.

The cabinet approved the amendments in the FIA act through a summary moved via circulation. The final approval of the amendment will be taken by Parliament.

In February of this year, President Arif Alvi had approved an ordinance of a similar nature proposing amendments in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, (PECA) 2016. The ordinance was signed by the president when the Imran Khan-led government's cabinet had approved it. 

The law, back then, proposed a five-year sentence for criticising state institutions, including the Pakistan Army, judiciary and others on electronic media.

However, in April of this year, the Islamabad High Court had declared the ordinance "unconstitutional" and directed the federal government to probe abuse of the law and submit a report.

The media bodies had challenged the “draconian law” in the IHC following countrywide protests.

Journalist associations, including the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), the Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) and some senior journalists of the country, had filed the petition through senior lawyer Munir A Malik.