SAMPLE MOOT PROBLEM
The National Assembly of Pakistan has passed the [FICTITIOUS] National Cyber Crimes Act 2014 on February 24, 2014. The Act came into force on June 1, 2014. The Act was intended to criminalize certain online behavior, and with the express purpose of giving the government the means of collecting data to combat criminal activity.
The relevant part of the Act is reproduced below:
1. Short title, extent, application and commencement.-
(1) This Act may be called the National Cyber Crimes Act 2014.
(2) It extends to the whole of Pakistan.
(3) It shall also apply to every citizen wherever he may be, and to every other person for the time being in Pakistan.
(4) It shall come into force at once.
7. Cyber offences against any person-
A person commits an offence when that person, with malicious intent, knowingly and publicly exhibits, displays, transmits any electronic communication that:
a) harms the reputation of a natural person;
b) threatens any sexual acts against a natural person; or,
c) distorts the face of a natural person;
without the express or implied consent of the person in question, intending that such electronic communication cause that person injury or threatens injury to his or her reputation, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with a fine which may extend to one million rupees, or with both.
Section 7 of the Act is provided as a cognizable offence.
On July 4, 2014, Ms. Ahmad, an avid social media blogger, and user of the popular social media website Sparrow, has strong political views and is not afraid to voice them. Ms. Ahmad posted a picture of a political figure from the National Democratic Alliance Party (NDAP). The picture posted depicted the leader of the NDAP during his recent press conference on his opposition to recently proposed land reforms. The gif had the face of the leader distorted to resemble Adolf Hitler, with a comment posted by Ms. Ahmad that read: “Such people should have no place in our political arena. It’s about time we do away with them.”
On July 7, 2014, an FIR was filed against Ms. Ahmad under Section 7 of the Cyber Crimes Act. Taking cognizance of the FIR, law enforcement authorities apprehended Ms. Ahmad. She was later released on bail.
On December 9, 2014, two people were also arrested under Section 7 of the Act after they had allegedly posted a picture against a prominent police official in their district. They were also later released on bail. In a similar incident, a group of seven college students were also charged under Section 7 after they had doctored pictures of their college professors. The pictures were altered to show as if the professors were consuming illegal drugs.
Ms. Ahmad has filed a writ petition against Section 7 of the Cyber Crimes Act seeking to have the provision declared as unconstitutional. Ms. Ahmad has raised in her petition a challenge that the law as drafted is against fundamental rights as guaranteed under the constitution, and alleges that the offence as defined under the Act is too vague to be applied to any person in the country, and does not meet the standard for punishment under our conception of natural justice.