November 18th, 2020
By Rehan Piracha
The Lahore High Court has ruled that a police complaint against Asad Ali Toor, a journalist, for defaming the military has become infructuous saying no evidence was found to support the accusation.
Toor had approached the Rawalpindi bench, headed by Justice Sadiq Mahmud Khurram, for quashing a case registered against him in Rawalpindi by the Cyber Crime Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for defaming state institutions under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act. Mr Toor was represented by advocate Col (r) Inamur Rahim and Imaan Zainab Hazir-Mazari before the bench.
Speaking to Voicepk.net from Islamabad, Toor said that a first information report (FIR) had been registered against him in which he had been accused of posting material on social media against the armed forces of Pakistan.
On November 17, the Lahore High Court absolved him of all the charges after the FIA police told the court that no evidence or material was found to support the charges, Toor said. He said the police also admitted before the court that they had wrongly registered the FIR against him. The complainant, Hafiz Ehtasham, a resident of Nasirabad, submitted an affidavit with the FIA that he no longer wished to pursue the case, Toor added.
Toor reiterated that trump up cases journalists and media workers must come to an end as the country continued to witness rise in intimidation and threats towards media professionals. He said the cyber crime law was being misused to silence critical voices especially media workers. “Journalism is at its lowest ebb in Pakistan and if journalists are stopped from raising questions then who would do so,” he said.
Toor thanked the Pakistan Bar Council and its Journalist Defence Committee for providing him legal assistance in fighting his case in courts. He praised his legal team advocate retired Col Inamur Rahim, Imaan Zainab Hazir-Mazari, Umar Gillani, Imtiaz Haider, Sikandar Naeem Qazi and Ramsha saying they not only defending him in courts but stood by him like family members.
In a tweet, the PBC’s Journalist Defence Committee said implicating journalists in fake and frivolous cases and their subsequent harassment was tantamount to curbing freedom of expression and freedom of press. The committee said it would respond legally to all illegal and malafide actions against journalists.
Last month, the Islamabad High Court granted protective bail to journalist Toor in the case registered in the Jatli police station of Rawalpindi in response to a complaint lodged by a habitual litigant Hafiz Ehtasham. The case was registered under Section 499 (defamation), 500 (punishment for defamation) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of Pakistan Penal Code along with sections 11, 20 and 37 of Prevention of the Electronic Crime Act 2016. According to the FIR, Mr Toor, a social media activist, has allegedly been doing propaganda against Pakistan and its institutions on social media for long. He allegedly used foul language against the institutions, including Pakistan Army, in his posts during the last few days, which is a crime, the FIR.