December 16, 2020

By Rehan Piracha


LAHORE

Reacting to a news flash of an interim challan submission by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), activists and lawyers of Meesha Shafi said that the contents of an incomplete investigation report is being used to launch a smear campaign against the singer.

The federal agency’s Lahore wing of Cyber Crime submitted an interim challan before the court of a special judge central in the FIR registered on the complaint filed by singer Ali Zafar in April 19, 2018.

“During the course of investigation so far Meera Shafi alias Meesha Shafi, Iffat Omar, Maham Javaid, Leena Ghani, Haseemus Zaman, Fariha Ayub, Syed Faizan Raza, Humna Raza and Ali Gul Pir have been found guilty in this case as per available oral and documentary evidences.

“However, the complainant recorded his statement in favour of Hamna Raza to the extent of accepting her apology, thus she is not required in the investigation furthermore,” said the FIA in its interim challan.

In a statement from Meesha Shafi’s legal team shared by Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir on twitter, her lawyers said the news regarding the submission of an incomplete investigation report (interim challan) by FIA is being misinterpreted by certain circles as part of a smear campaign against Meesha Shafi.

“This reporting is highly misleading because no court of law has given the verdict, in fact the trial has not even begun,” the legal team said in its reaction to the erroneous reporting that Meesha Shafi has been held ‘guilty’ in the challan which was shared on social media platforms.

“The challan, that too incomplete, is FIA’s findings which in our opinion is based on a deeply flawed understanding of the law. The fundamental principle of law is that the investigation agency, i.e. FIA, has to prove the case against Meesha Shafi beyond reasonable doubt during trial which has yet to happen,” the legal team said.

The legal team said that it was confident that Meesha Shafi and others named in the FIR will not be found guilty by the concerned judicial authorities and courts.

“FIA and other agencies are well-known to have always allowed itself to be used by powerful and influential people in this country,” the statement read.

“The case against Meesha Shafi is just another bad example of abuse of power and the ways in which the law is weaponized to silence women,” the legal team said.

Speaking to Voicepk.net, Asad Jamal, counsel for Meesha Shafi in the FIA case, said that the FIA investigation was ‘deeply flawed’. Under the law for criminal defamation, the burden of proof is on the accuser and not on the accused, Jamal said. Unfortunately, the FIA has shifted the burden of proof to the accused i.e Meesha Shafi and others, he said.

Nida Aly, Executive Director of the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS), called for an investigation into the premeditated campaign to build public opinion against Meesha Shafi.

“There is a gagging order on Meesha Shafi, but the same does not seem to apply to Ali Zafar,” she said, adding that it was unfortunate that the actual case of harassment has still not been heard on merit and the whole case has been distorted to digress from the main issue.

In a tweet, women rights activist and Executive Director Digital Rights Foundation (DRF), Nighat Dad criticized the FIA for the usage of the word ‘guilty’ in its incomplete investigation report.

“It is the court of law which is supposed to decide whether certain content is defamatory and take cognizance accordingly,” she said. “The FIA’s job under PECA is merely to ‘investigate’ an offence and not to determine guilt,” she said in her tweet.

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