Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb on Saturday announced the immediate withdrawal of a review petition filed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the apex court for restoration of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA), 2016’s Section 20. In a series of tweets, Marriyum said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had taken strict notice of the petition filed by FIA regarding PECA. “The Prime Minister and I learned a short while ago that FIA has filed a petition in SC against the IHC judgment regarding PECA Act 2016 to seek restoration of section 20 of the Act,” she said, terming it “squarely against the government’s stated policy and the principle of standing for and ensuring freedom of expression.” So, she said: “Please note that this petition stands withdrawn immediately.” She regretted that the news about the petition reached them a little late due to the absence of mobile network signals in Bisham, a locality in Shangla District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the prime minister addressed a public gathering earlier in the day. A spokesperson of the FIA also confirmed that the appeal has been “withdrawn immediately”. “FIA without taking the interior ministry and government’s approval had filed the petition,” the spokesperson said. The FIA had approached the Supreme Court for the restoration of the highly controversial section 20 of the PECA Act 2016. In its plea, the director general of the FIA, had contended before the Supreme Court whether the Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah was “justified or correct” to strike down the section 20 of the act. The agency had also asked the apex court to examine whether the Islamabad High Court “has not advertently overstepped its legal parameters earmarked” in Article 199. It wanted the court to determine whether the striking of the section was tantamount to “undue intermeddling with the affairs of the federation”. The FIA had also asked the Supreme Court to examins whether the IHC order was in “direct clash and conflict with Article 184 (3)”. The FIA had also contended in its petition whether the IHC order was “extending undue favour” to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists “without any lawful justification, as certain unscrupulous elements amongst them are involved in slinging unbecoming, unparliamentary, defamatory and sarcastic remarks and language upon the law-abiding citizens as well as the honourable judges of superior judiciary, the hierarchy of the Federation and the State institutions valiant armed forces”. The FIA contended before the SC to examine that the FIA by issuing such a directive violated “globally recognised landmark legal maxim, i.e., audi alteram partem (hear the other side; one must hear both sides of a case before reaching a decision)”. It alleged that the bench gave full audience to the PFUJ and directed inquiry against FIA officials who were not a party to the case. The investigation agency also asked the Supreme Court to examine if the IHC order was a “result of misreading and non-reading of the spirit of section 20 of PECA”. It also asked the SC to examine whether the IHC order had “extended undue, unlawful and unbridled incentive” to the PFUJ “with a clean chit to defame those restricted by Article 19-A of the Constitution”. The FIA had prayed before the apex court to accept its appeal and “suspend” the IHC order till it hears the case.