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Legal Challenge To Sedition Law: Abid Saqi Moves LHC In Petition On Behalf Of Ammar Ali Jan

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A writ petition has been submitted to the Lahore High Court by Abid Saqi, Vice Chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council, seeking the annulment of the section of the Pakistan Penal Code which deals with the issue of sedition, Naya Daur has learned. The petition maintains that sedition laws are inconsistent with democracy and fundamental rights for Pakistani citizens.

The petitioners and their legal counsel are of the view that Section 124A is inconsistent with articles 15, 16, 17 and 19 of the Constitution, and therefore it ought to be declared void as per article 8.

The petitioners named are Iqbal Lala, Muhammad Shabir, Dr. Ammar Ali Jan, Alamgir Wazir and Kamil Khan – all of whom were named in an FIR dated the 29th of November 2019 in the aftermath of the Student Solidarity March in Lahore. Charges against them included sedition under Section 124A of the PPC.

Iqbal Lala had come to Lahore to participate in the Student Solidarity March in memory of his slain son Mashal Khan.

Section 124A is commonly associated with the British Raj and its administrative measures against political workers and the anti-colonial independence movement in South Asia.

Submitted by lawyers Abid Saqi, Asad Jamal, Ramis Sohail and other members of the legal fraternity, the petition calls into question not only the circumstances under which the five petitioners were booked for sedition, but the relevant section of the penal code itself.

The petition cites the history of the sedition laws and their use for repressive purposes by the British colonial authorities. Seeing the sedition laws as a relic of the colonized past, the petitioners emphasize the need for freedom of expression for democracy to flourish, as well as the vague terms in which sedition is defined – which, according to critics, lends the legislation to misuse by authorities. The petition also cites Pakistan’s international commitments to upholding human rights, as well as the example of various democratic countries striking down their own sedition laws, including the UK itself.

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