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Notices to Centre, provinces on plea against sedition law

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday issued notices to the federal and provincial governments on a petition seeking a declaration that section 124-A of PPC, which deals with offence of sedition, was in contradiction with the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined in the Constitution.

The petition was filed by Ammar Ali Jan, a student rights activist, which also questioned legality of an FIR lodged against him and others mainly under the impugned section of PPC for holding “Student Solidarity March” on The Mall.

Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Abid Saqi appeared on behalf of the petitioner as Justice Anwarul Haq Pannun took up the petition.

Presenting a brief history of offence of sedition, the counsel stated the law of sedition originally was drafted in 1837 by Thomas Macaulay, the British historian-politician, but was omitted when the Indian Penal Code was enacted in 1860.

Saqi said the law of sedition as contained in section 124-A of PPC was a relic of oppressive colonial legacy which had been introduced to rule the subjects – not citizens.

Therefore, he argued, the provisions of section 124-A PPC were repugnant to the constitutional guarantees including freedom of speech, movement, assembly, association and of expression provided under articles 15, 16, 17 and 19 of the Constitution.

The counsel said the impugned section be declared void and ultra vires being inconsistent with and in derogation of fundamental rights in view of the mandate of article 8.

He asked the court to quash the FIR registered by Civil Lines police against the petitioner and other participants in the march for being unlawful.

The judge directed the respondents to submit their replies by next date of hearing.

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