The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday stopped Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to make arrests under section-20 of Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) and summoned attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) on Wednesday for assistance. Chief Justice Athar Minallah, hearing the case, remarked that there shouldn’t be a defamation law for any public figure. The court observed that the FIA had already submitted its SOPs and according to it no one should be arrested on complaint under Section-20. The court said that secretary interior ministry and director general FIA would be responsible if the SOPs were not implemented. Even Zimbabwe, Uganda and Congo, too had excluded the defamation from criminal laws, the court remarked. Earlier, the petitioner’s lawyer Adil Aziz Qazi adopted the stance that government had amended section-20 of PECA through and Ordinance. The punishment had been increased from three year jail to five year term. He said besides this a new section had also been added in the law. The advocate said that the senate session was prorogued on February 17 while the National Assembly’s session was scheduled for February 18, but it was canceled. The petition was filed by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) before IHC. The hearing was attended by anchor Hamid Mir, President PFUJ Shakeel Ahmed, President IHC Journalist Association Saqib Bashir Chaudhry and other office bearer of journalists’ bodies. Qazi, argued that the government deliberately postponed a scheduled session of the National Assembly (NA) on February 18 to introduce this ordinance. “What were the circumstances under which the government issued the ordinance in haste?” questioned the lawyer. At this, the judge remarked that the FIA had already submitted SOPs relating to raids and arrests. The court ordered that nobody should be arrested on any complaint registered under Section 20. “[The] interior ministry secretary and FIA director-general will be responsible if the SOPs are not followed,” warned Justice Minallah. “There should be no defamation law for public representatives”, remarked Justice Minallah. Meanwhile, the court sought assistance from the attorney general of Pakistan in the case and adjourned the hearing till February 24. The journalists bodies, human rights organisations, bar councils and political parties have raised serious objections over the government’s move and have termed it an attempt to stifle media. The IHC on Monday had issued a show-cause notice to the FIA’s cybercrime wing over Baig’s arrest, terming it “misuse of power”. The FIA had raided the journalist’s house last Wednesday in the federal capital, along with the police, and took him into custody on a complaint, containing allegations of defamation, filed by Communications and Postal Services Minister Murad Saeed.