ISLAMABAD: The federal government has agreed to move quickly against sedition and incitement to disturbance the day before the Lahore rally that the opposition continues ignoring a terror threat warning and the deteriorating Covid-19 situation.
On Saturday, informed sources told Dawn that the cabinet had allowed the interior secretary to lodge grievances on behalf of the government in the event of a ‘commission of an offence against the state’ under Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
An official told Dawn that all offences against the State had been punished pursuant to Section 196 of the CrPC and that if the requisite requirement for the exercise of jurisdiction had not been met, all the prosecutions that followed would become coram non judice.
Section 196 of the CrPC reads as follows: ‘No Court shall take cognizance of any crime punishable under Chapter VI or IXA of the Pakistan Penal Code (with the exception of Section 127) or punishable under Section 108-A or Section 153-A or Section 294-A or Section 295-A or Section 505 of the Pakistan Penal Code, unless a case is filed by, or under the jurisdiction of a federal government or provincial government pursuant to Section 108-A or Section 153-A or Section 294-A or Section 295-A or Section 505 of the same Code.
A Supreme Court three-member bench led by the then chief justice had ruled that the federal government meant the federal cabinet. As a consequence, all decisions, including those of an institutional sort, are submitted to the cabinet for approval.
“A complaint will now be lodged by the interior secretary on behalf of the federal government in the event of an offence against the state, and there will be no need to send a summary for the approval of the cabinet each time,” the official said.
He stated that this was the delegation of authority and not any shift to CrPC.
When contacted, an opposition lawmaker said the government’s intent would be apparent in the next few days and hastened to add that concerns were raised about how the cabinet had accepted the summary without a formal meeting.
Offenses against the state include waging or threatening to wage war against Pakistan, (Section 121 of the PPC), conspiracy to commit offences punishable by Section 121 (S.121-A), collecting arms, etc., with the aim of waging war against Pakistan (S.122), concealing with the intention of encouraging the design of wage war (S.123), defiling or unlawful destruction of the national flag flag (S. 124-A).
Section 124A of the PPC, considered by many as a remnant of the colonial period, criminalises words/expression against the government that “brings or tries to bring hate or contempt, or excites or tries to excite disaffection.”
Whoever by speech, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection, the federal or provincial government formed by statute shall be punishable with life imprisonment to which a fine may be applied, or w.
In June this year, PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani tabled a bill demanding the deletion of Section 124-A of the PPC in the Senate.
The veteran senator observed that this portion was part of the British rule’s hereditary imperial system, which continued in Pakistan, and was used to monitor those who incited revolt against the masters.
“This law has served as a brutal occupying force and is being used to crush political dissent and ensure unquestionable obedience,” he said when discussing the bill.
Mr. Rabbani emphasised that, as was the case under colonial rule, the bond between the rulers and the masses now was not of the master and servant.