The Lahore High Court has granted journalist Azharul Haq Wahid bail.
He is a journalist at TV Today who was accused of inciting rebellion by making ‘anti-state’ remarks and criticising former military dictator Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Imran Khan on social media.
An FIR was registered against Wahid under sections 11 (hate speech) and 20 (harming the reputation or privacy of a natural person) of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016, and Section 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Justice Mujahid Mustaqeem heard Wahid's bail plea on Friday. The court remarked that accusation of inciting rebellion never applied in this case.
In order to add Section 505 to the FIR, criminal proceedings had to have been initiated and approval taken from the authorities, neither of which was done, the court said.
The journalist's lawyer, Mian Daud, said their argument was the same. “Critising the government or Musharraf can't be classified as rebellion," he said.
He claimed that the media workers who had criticised Musharraf during the days when the court was hearing a high treason case against the former military dictator in December 2019 were continuously being threatened.
He argued that a false case was lodged against Wahid to scare journalists.
Three months have passed since Wahid's arrest but the FIA has yet to conduct a forensic analysis of his computer or cell phone, argued Daud.
He argued that the law calls for the suspect’s release if the investigation or challan is not completed.
The FIA's lawyer, however, asked for more time to investigate Wahid, but the appeal was turned down by the high court.
You have made zero progress yet continue to oppose the bail plea, the court said. The court then approved Wahid's bail petition.