The Lahore High Court on Thursday invalidated the provisions under Section 124A of the Pakistan Penal Code, revoking what is also known as the ‘sedition law’. According to Pakistan daily Dawn, the court said the law was inconsistent with the country’s Constitution as it was being used by the government in power against their rivals.
Justice Shahid Karim, hearing a batch of petitions seeking to annul the law, said the law was being used “recklessly” as a tool of exploitation to curb the right to free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Pakistan Constitution.
Section 124A or the sedition law pertains to the crimes of sedition or inciting “disaffection” against the government “by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation” or a word that “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”.
Anyone charged with sedition is punished with life imprisonment to which a fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, according to the law.
The petition stated that various politicians, journalists and activists had been booked under Section 124-A of the PPC over the years and the “intensity of registration of FIRs” under the sedition law was “snowballing”, as reported in Dawn.
The Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had in September last year filed a petition with the Islamabad High Court seeking a similar annulment of the sedition law but the plea was dismissed as “non-maintainable”.