The Lahore High Court on Thursday revoked the country's sedition law or Section 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code. India
The law, pertaining to the crime of sedition or inciting “disaffection” against the government, had been a subject of controversy for a considerable period of time over its alleged exploitation by those in power to target their political opponents.
The HC observed that the law was inconsistent with Pakistan's Constitution as it was being used by the government in power against their rivals.
Justice Shahid Karim of the High Court invalidated Sedition Law while dealing with a batch of petitions seeking to annul Section 124A of the PPC.
Notably, Justice Karim is the same judge who convicted Pakistan's former dictator General Pervez Musharraf in 2019 and sentenced him to death in absentia in the high treason case for subverting the Constitution in 2007.
What did the Sedition law state?
Sedition: Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, 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 shall be punished with imprisonment for life to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
Journalists, activists say Sedition Law was 'a curse'
The decision of the Lahore HC was met with massive cheer and applause from journalists, activists, advocates and politicians.
PTI leader Andleeb Abbas noted that the sedition law had been “a curse for free speech” and expressed hope that a new era of legal reforms would begin soon.
“Abuse of the colonial era sedition law was undemocratic & undermined fundamental right to freedom of speech. Glad it’s been done away with as the establishment used it to persecute democratic criticism,” an activist named Usama Khilji tweeted.
Ammar Rashid, a columnist and activist, described the annulment of the colonial sedition law as a “huge victory for dissent”.
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