islamabad - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday disposed of a contempt of court petition about posting of blasphemous material on social media with directions to the Federal Investigation Agency to proceed in accordance with law to bring back the alleged blasphemer bloggers back to Pakistan.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui conducted hearing of the contempt of court petition for not complying with the court orders about blockage of pages or websites containing blasphemous material on social and disposed of the matter after issuing short judgment in this matter.

The IHC bench would issue detailed verdict in this connection later.

During the hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali appeared before the court and submitted a copy of summary sent to the Prime Minister along with copy of letter dated 30-3-2017 addressed to Sectary Interior and Minister of Information Technology for insertion of offences under Chapter XV of Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 in the schedule of Federal Investigation Agency Act 1974.

In his verdict, Justice Siddiqui noted: “As far as action against five bloggers who left Pakistan is concerned, it is directed that FIA authorities shall proceed in the matter in accordance with law and if any incriminating material is available then bloggers may be brought back to Pakistan but with due process, in order to initiate the proceedings under the law of land.”

The bench observed that since attorney general has already taken an initiative with regard to insertion of blasphemy and pornography in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and also to address the issue of penal consequences of false accusation of blasphemy, it is expected that authorities concerned shall proceed in the matter by appreciating delicacy of the issue to take some appropriate steps within one month.

Justice Siddiqui directed Ministry of Interior to identify NGOs operating in Pakistan with an agenda to spread blasphemy and pornography, obviously with financial assistance of different groups within or outside Pakistan and they may also be dealt with in accordance with law.

He also wrote: “The Federal Investigation Agency shall proceed with the investigation of the case purely on merits in accordance with law. Sensitivity of the issue demands that in case of any fresh complaint, same may be incorporated to conduct initial inquiry and to proceed in accordance with law.”

The bench while addressing to attorney general said that the state institutions responded quite well in this matter except few who behaved in an irresponsible manner.

It said to the AGP that there are no laws regarding blasphemy, pornography and false accusations of blasphemy in the prevention of electronic crimes act (PECA-2016). Had there been laws in the said act, the situation may not have reached to this point.

Justice Siddiqui said that 295-C is not an ordinary law that we say that whosoever alleges blasphemy against another person, proceedings may be initiated against the accused. He added that a person who falsely accuses someone for blasphemy commits three types of crimes. First, he himself commits blasphemy, second he alleges false accusations against another person and third he ruins the life of another person. It is utmost necessary to form laws that no one could allege another person for false accusations of blasphemy.

The IHC bench inquired from the Director FIA Mazhar ul Haq Kakakhail that whether they got their response ready regarding the questions that how five bloggers went out of the country and about NGOs promoting blasphemy and pornography inside the country. Then, Director FIA submitted a two-page reply.

IHC bench remarked that there were several issues beyond the control of this court but there is a hope that FIA will actively pursue this matter. The counsel for the petitioner Tariq Asad Advocate expressed his dissatisfaction over the matter that nothing done against the bloggers.

Therefore, the court directed FIA in the matter of bloggers to proceed in this case purely on the basis of merit and in accordance with the law. Justice Shaukat remarked that we are disposing of this petition with a short order and detailed judgment will be issued later on. It is not a matter of victory or defeat for someone but this is a matter of our faith.

He also directed Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to evolve some comprehensive and delicate mechanism to identify the pages/websites containing blasphemy contents in order to take some remedial steps with promptitude.

He further directed Chairman PTA Ismail Shah to ensure that a scientific mechanism is evolved to bring awareness about the blasphemy and pornography with penal consequences under the law.

In the judgment, Justice Siddiqui directed secretary ministry of interior to constitute a penal/committee with participation of concerned individuals/departments to launch a comprehensive campaign in order to erode the blasphemous contents from social media, identification of persons involved in this sinful act and to deal with them in accordance with law.

In the main petition, petitioner Salman Shahid was seeking blockage of blasphemous pages on social media and directions for the government to initiate legal proceedings against the page administrators.

In his main as well as contempt of court applications, Salman Shahid cited Arif Ahmad khan, Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Azmat Ali Ranjha, Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication, Muhammad Amlish, Director General, Federal Investigation Agency, Dr. Syed Ismaeel Shah, Chairman, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Tariq Sultan, Member Finance/ Acting Chairman (PTA) Pakistan Telecommunication as respondents.

The petitioner through his counsel Tariq Asad Advocate had adopted that the pages and videos against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), Sihaba-e-Kiram, wives (Azwaje Mutaharat), sacred book of Holy Quran and Allah Almighty have not been stopped /blocked by the respondents, nor any steps have been taken. As a result, the culprits have been encouraged and they have fearlessly opened new more pages with the different other names, too.