PECA 2016 is an administrative process, not a criminal, law. It applies to anyone who owns, operates, develops, or controls any device, equipment, or Internet connection, regardless of its purpose or use. The Pakistan Electronic Commerce Board (PECB) is a subsidiary body of the Federal government. It has been entrusted with speedy and affordable disposal of any complaint relating to the act or omission of a commercial internet service or website provider on the electronic communications network or other electronic equipment adequate to the harm caused. Section 2 (c) also empowers the Board to conduct such investigation and inspection of accounts and premises of any person as it, in the reasonable opinion of the Board, may deem it necessary.
While the PECA 2016 is protective of the rights of a legitimate operator, it is also retributive in nature. It seems that the government of Pakistan has been deliberately vague in defining the scope of the PECA 2016. It is under the impression that the PECA 2016 delegates the responsibility of investigation and effective implementation of law enforcement and prosecution to the PECB. But it is not so. Section 3 (b) provides the defendant in any illegal transaction, especially those related with Communication Act, to file a plea. The plea is supposed to be filed by the defendant and ultimately referred to the PECB for investigation. The PECB is merely a watchdog which is empowered to conduct such investigation and hear the case on its own; neither does it have the authority to hold a preliminary hearing as a court, nor to fetch witnesses or any other material evidence. The PECB is not entitled to sub-poena witnesses and evidence through any process. The PECB simply conduct a preliminary hearing in which it finds out whether there is sufficient evidence and if there is, authorizes the filing of a guilty or not guilty case by the concerned law enforcement agencies. d2c66b5586