ATC indicts four for blasphemy on social media

ISLAMABAD: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Tuesday indicted four out of seven suspects for allegedly publishing blasphemous content about Islam on social media.

ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand arraigned the suspects, who pleaded not guilty and decided to stand trial. The suspects were brought to the court amid tight security.

Subsequently, the court directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to start producing witnesses and evidence from the next date of hearing – September 25.

The court has also directed the FIA to produce a separate charge sheet against the three absconders.

On the previous hearing, the FIA had submitted a charge sheet against the suspects following which the court had directed the FIA to provide copies of the documents to the suspects and fixed September 12 as the date for indictment.

Court sources said the FIA has made the alleged blasphemous content and a forensic report part of the charge sheet.

So far in the case, the FIA has arrested four suspects, who have been remanded to jail custody.

FIA had registered an FIR No 07/2017 under sections 295-A, 295-B, 295-C, 298, 298-A, 298-B, 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 11 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, (PECA), 2016, and Sections 6(f), 7(h), 8 & 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, on March 19.

Earlier, the ATC had dismissed a bail plea of one of the suspects, who is said to be a college professor, in the case.

Earlier, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), while hearing a petition related to blasphemy, had observed that availability of blasphemous material on social media has a direct bearing on the integrity, security and defence of Pakistan.

Also, the IHC had ordered the authorities concerned to include sections related to blasphemy and pornography in the Cyber Crimes Act and to inquire about the non-governmental organisations operating in Pakistan with an agenda to spread blasphemous content and promote pornography.

Justice Siddiqui had also ordered that the top leadership of the country become pro-active on the issue for raising a national “firewall” enabling Pakistan to monitor Pakistan’s internet traffic and all the users.

Moreover, the IHC had directed to register cases against the alleged blasphemers, constitute a Joint Investigation Team, place culprits’ names on the Exit Control List and utilise the whole state machinery, if needed, to remove blasphemous content from social media.

Source: The Express TribuneATC

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