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Possessing Inflammatory Material Without Distributing It Still A Crime: SC

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has declared the possession of inflammatory material an offence, even if it has not been distributed.

The judgement related to the matter, written by Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, said that given the inflammatory potential of the crime, the legislature intended to nip the evil in the bud. The judgment stated, “A plain reading of Section 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 unambiguously, suggests that possession of the inflammatory material by itself is an offence even before it is distributed.”

In cases of possession of inflammatory material, it has generally been argued by lawyers representing the perpetrators that possession without the intent to distribute should not be a crime.

In January 2015, Qari Muhammad Ishaq Ghazi had been arrested by Okara police for possession of pamphlets filled with potentially inciteful content towards a particular sect.

He was convicted under Section 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and sentenced to 5-years rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs. 0.1 million.

The defendant’s appeal was rejected by Lahore High Court. After the completion of his sentence, his counsel chose to appeal the case in the Supreme Court with the intent to vindicate his position.

The SC in its order related to the said appeal took note of the fact that the contents of the pamphlets were repugnant and abhorrent, crossed all limits of decency and were capable of causing grievous offences.

The apex court argued that the position that the mere possession of the material would not cause mischief was naive and the appeal of Qari Ishaq was rejected.

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