April 28th, 2021
By Ahmed Saeed
PML-N leader Javed Latif was handed over to the police on a five-day physical remand on April 28, 2021 by a local court in Lahore. On March 20, Latif was charged with conspiracy, inciting riots, and spreading fear among the people on the complaint of a local citizen named Jamil Saleem.
According to the FIR, Javed Latif had stated in a TV program that if anything happened to PML-N stalwart Maryam Nawaz, then members of the PML-N will stop raising the slogan of ‘Pakistan Khappay’ or long live Pakistan.
However, senior jurists and lawyers have pointed out that cases under Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), under which Javed Latif has been booked, cannot be lodged without the overt assent of the federal or the concerned provincial government.
“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 196 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.”
Senior lawyer and PML-N senator Azam Nazir Tarar stated that sedition laws should not be used to stifle dissent because such moves can have a damning impact on democracy. He further stated that the concerned authorities cannot register cases of treason without the approval of the cabinet.
Latif’s lawyer, Faisal Ali Shah, has reiterated these legal points. According to him in the past courts had dismissed similar cases against his client because these cases did not meet the necessary legal provisions at the time of registration.
Zulfiqar Bukhari, a senior criminal lawyer, went as far as to suggest legal action against police personnel who have registered this FIR without the approval of the cabinet.
Experts also point out that even if assent was attained, such cases are used to victimize political opponents. In a recent interview, Bashir Memon, a former DG FIA, revealed that the current government had repeatedly asked him to register cases of sedition and treason against political opponents on petty issues.