The federal government on Wednesday approved an amendment to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Act which will empower the institute in taking strict action against individuals who intend to spread “rumors and false information against state institutions” on social media.
The incumbent coalition cabinet, on Thursday, approved a summary on circulation from the Interior Ministry about the amendments in the schedule of the FIA Act, 1974.
A summary of the amendment as cited in the news reports, states: “FIA has intimated that presently, social media is inundated with false information and rumors against state institutions and organizations with the intent to cause or incite or which is likely to cause or incite any officer, solder, sailor or airman in the army, navy, or air force of Pakistan to mutiny, offense or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty as such.”
Such rumors and false information were also being spread with the intent to cause fear or alarm in the citizens or induce the individuals to commit an offense against the national or public tranquility, it stated further. These incidents are likely to incite any class or community of persons to commit any offense against any other class or community, the investigation agency added further.
FIA told the government that the said offense was triable under Pakistan Penal Code’s Section 505 (statement conducing to public mischief), which was currently not a part of the schedule of the FIA Act. It requested the state’s approval to include it in its scheduled offenses.
According to Sub-section one of PPC Section 505, anyone found committing its relevant offense shall be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to seven years, along with a fine.
On condition of anonymity, an FIA official told the news agency that previously they required cabinet nods and there were other bureaucratic formalities but with the inclusion of this section, they would now be able to take measures without further delay.