The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has declared singer Meesha Shafi and eight others “guilty” of running a vilification campaign on social media against singer-actor Ali Zafar and asked the trial court to start its proceedings against them. But the agency is coming under fire on social media for overstepping its investigate mandate and rendering a judgement.
On 19th April 2018, Meesha Shaafi accused Ali Zafar of sexual harassment, but was unable to produce witnesses in court who could back her allegations. The eight others named by the FIA also failed to provide evidence in favor of the direct allegations posted by them on social media against Ali Zafar. Resultantly, an FIR was registered on the court’s order, in September, against them under section 20 (1) of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and R/W 109-PPC.
However digital rights activists like Nighat Dad, and other women’s rights activists criticised the FIA, on Twitter, for overstepping its purely investigative mandate and attempting to pass judgement in this case.
It’s the court of law which is supposed to decide whether certain content is defamatory and take cognizance accordingly. The FIA’s job under PECA is merely to “INVESTIGATE” an offence & not to determine guilt. As usual misleading headline by @dawn_com especially in this case. https://t.co/le1j6BkwDa— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) December 16, 2020
In November 2018, Ali Zafar had filed a complaint with the FIA cyber-crime wing, alleging that many social media accounts were posting “threats and defamatory material” against him. He provided details of some Twitter and Facebook accounts in order to support his claim.
Meesha Shafi’s legal team issued this statement in response to Ali Zafar’s complaint:
Ali Zafar’s defamation suit against Meesha Shafi is also pending in a sessions court.