IHC rejects Cynthia D Ritchie’s petition

ISLAMABAD            –         The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday turned down a petition of Cynthia D Ritchie a US national currently residing in Pakistan challenging a lower court’s order to register FIR against her.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of her petition, wherein, the US national challenged the Justice of Peace, Islamabad’s decision in which it had directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to proceed with registration of FIR against Ritchie.

At the very outset, the court asked from her that she is aggrieved because the direction is only to the extent of conducting an inquiry. The petitioner’s counsel stated that the Justice of Peace has also decided the question of jurisdiction and the competent authority of the Federal Investigation Agency while conducting an inquiry is expected to consider whether in the facts and circumstances of the case and the material collected during the course of inquiry an offence is made out under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 and whether the Agency is vested with jurisdiction to proceed with the matter.

The court observed that the competent authority would obviously be considering the material and then form an opinion whether or not to register a case.

Justice Athar noted in the verdict, “It is settled law that a High Court while exercising jurisdiction under Article 199 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 does not interfere in matters relating to inquiry or investigation, as the case may be.”

He added, “The Federal Investigation Agency was empowered to conduct an inquiry even if no order had been passed by the learned Justice of Peace. The Federal Investigation Agency while proceeding in the matter is expected not to be influenced by any observation made in the impugned order.”

The IHC CJ continued that this Court is satisfied that interference is not required and, therefore, the petition is dismissed as being without merit.

Cynthia moved the court through her counsel Imran Feroze Malik Advocate and cited Justice of Peace Islamabad, Muhammad ShakeelAbbasi, FIA Crime Wing Islamabad, Salman Khan Incharge Cyber Crime Wing Islamabad and Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) as respondents.

The petitioner stated that Shakeel Abbasi moved an application before Salman Khan Incharge Cyber Crime Wing Islamabad, wherein, it was contended that present petitioner passed some defamatory remarks about the leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), giving rise to a cyber crime hence requested registration of FIR.

She added that upon such application, inquiry was conducted and it was found by the FIA authorities that Abbasi has no locus standi to file an instant application, therefore, authorities refused to register the FIR.

Cynthia maintained that after visualising, so-called inaction on the part of FIA Cyber Crime Wing, application was preferred before the Justice of Peace, who sought report from respondents including FIA and PTA,the report was submitted, wherein, contention of Abbasi was discarded on the ground of locus standi as he is not aggrieved person within the meaning of Prevention of Cyber Crime Act 2016 but even then the Justice of Peace directed the FIA to proceed with registration of FIR illegally and unlawfully, which order is liable to be set aside.

She maintained, “Petitioner has committed no offence, which clearly depicts from the report submitted by Respondent no 2 after evaluating the entire material and contention of independent witnesses.”

Therefore, she prayed to the court that under these circumstances the said order dated June 15 passed by the respondent No 1 may graciously be set aside and may kindly be declared illegal and unlawful in the best interest of justice.

 

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