LHC strike down sedition law in its historic judgement

 Justice Shahid Karim  of Lahore High Court announced the verdict to strike down the section 124-A of Pakistan Penal Code

Justice Shahid Karim of  Lahore High Court today in its historic verdict has strike down the Section 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, commonly known as sedition law, which pertains to the crime of sedition or inciting “disaffection” against the government, terming it inconsistent with the Constitution.

This section was introduced by British imperialism in the Indian penal Code and Pakistan retained this section in the Pakistan Penal Code after the independence in 1947.

Justice Shahid Karim of the LHC pronounced the verdict in response to identical petitions seeking to annul the sedition law.

The Section 124-A states: “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Federal or Provincial Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.”

One of the petitions, filed by a citizen Haroon Farooq, which was identical to all other pleas urged the court to declare Section 124-A of the PPC as “ultra-vires in terms of Article 8 of the Constitution being inconsistent with and in derogation of fundamental rights provided under Article 9, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 19, 19-A of the Constitution”.

According to the petition, the law has been recklessly used in Pakistan as a tool of exploitation to curb the right to free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution.

“Section 124-A Pakistan Penal Code 1860 is an illegitimate limitation and restriction on the legitimate, legal and lawful exercise of the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech and expression (in particular) and various other constitutional freedoms (in general),” it added.

Over the past few years, the petition argued, various politicians, journalists and activists had been booked under Section 124-A of the PPC. “Every passing day, the intensity of registration of FIRs under this section is snowballing while the people of Pakistan have suffered a lot, as almost every criticism of government or state institutions has been treated as an offence under Section 124-A by law enforcement agencies.”

The petition said the law was serving as “a notorious tool for the suppression of dissent, free speech and criticism in free and independent Pakistan”.


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