October 5th, 2020

By Ahmed Saeed and Haider Kaleem


Senior lawyers and legal experts have termed the FIR lodged against the PML-N supremo and three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as technically invalid. The FIR was filed over charges of sedition and conspiracy against the state.

The complaint on which the FIR registered in the Shahdra police station of Lahore was filed by a man named Badar Rasheed and was registered under Sections 120-A (definition of criminal conspiracy), 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121-A (conspiracy to wage war against Pakistan), 123-A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty), 124-A (sedition) and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 10 (cyberterrorism) of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (2016).

But senior lawyer and President of Peshawar High Court Bar Association, Latif Afridi, told Voicepk.net that only the federal or provincial government has the power to register a case, which deals with any matter related to sedition or conspiracy against the state.

“Under Section 196 of the CrPC, a case of such an offense cannot be registered by a citizen,” says Afridi. “Only the federal government or a provincial government or an officer empowered by either of the two governments can file such a complaint,” he said.

Section 191 of the CrPC reads

“No Court shall take cognizance of any offense punishable under Chapter VI or IXA of the Pakistan Penal Code (except 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 same Code, unless upon a complaint made by order of, or under authority from, the Central Government, or the Provincial Government concerned, or some officer empowered in this behalf by either of the two Governments.”

The incumbent prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider Khan was also nominated in the FIR.

When contacted for his motive for filing such a complaint, Rasheed told Voicepk.net,  that he was a patriotic citizen and his feelings were hurt by Nawaz Sharif’s speeches and that every Pakistani citizen must file such lawsuits.

Earlier, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) also barred TV channels from airing Nawaz Sharif’s speech live or recorded.

Commenting on the registration of the FIR, Azam Nazir Tarar, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council, said the current government’s attitude was “very worrying” and even under martial laws there was not so much oppression.

Some political commentators say slapping sedition charges on opponents is political victimization and such tactics are not good for the stability of the country.

Senior journalist, Suhail Warriach said that such tactics always damaged the credibility of the government. He suggested that it was high time for all the political forces of the country to become united and move a bill in the parliament to repeal the colonial-era sedition laws.