May 4, 2023
By Ahmed Saeed
LAHORE: Bahawalpur Police have registered a case under sections 124-A (sedition) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against a university professor in spite of a judgement by the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) which struck down the sedition clause.
The first information report (FIR) was registered by Civil Lines Police Station on May 3, 2023 against Ali Sufyan, who is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Information and Communication Engineering at Islamia University, Bahawalpur.
The complainant in the case is one Nasir Tanveer, an office-bearer of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) who declared to Voicepk.net that he is ‘a habitual petitioner’ and stated that he has registered three sedition cases in the past against Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and Mir Hasil Bizenjo.
“The accused said in a Facebook post that the Pakistan Army was weak and incompetent. The Facebook post stated that the Army is incapable of providing security for upcoming elections, and yet they are threatening India with an attack. Such posts do not only go in favour of India, but also put a question mark of the Pakistan Army’s capabilities. The accused Ali Sufyan has challenged Pakistan Army as per conspiracy of the enemy,” the FIR read.
The accused has secured protective bail from a local court till May 11, 2023.
“Not aware of LHC verdict on section 124-A”: police
Justice Shahid Karim of the LHC on March 30, 2023 struck down section 124-A, declaring it as ultra vires of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Justice Karim observed that section 124-A is quintessentially a colonial law and has its genesis in colonial rule. The sedition law was enacted to perpetrate and entrench British rule in the subcontinent.
“Sedition belongs to the species of offences which had no other purpose but suppression of people’s voices by the colonial masters,” the judgement read.
Abu Zar Salman Niazi, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner in the LHC, said that the Bahawalpur Police could not register an offense under section 124-A of the PPC as the clause does not exist anymore.
“The accused must file for quashing of FIR and the judge will certainly quash it in light of the LHC judgment,” Niazi said.
He said that the accused can also file a contempt case as the police are not legally equipped to file such an FIR.
“Maybe, the police were under pressure or they were oblivious of the LHC judgement,” he said.
Voicepk.net contacted the Station House Officer (SHO) of the Civil Line Police, Aamir, to ascertain as to why the FIR was registered under section 124-A despite the LHC judgement. Aamir stated that he was not aware of the judgement nor the department has issued any guidelines regarding the judgement.
Who is the accused?
The accused Ali Sufyan is an academician with a Masters in Personal, Mobile and Satellite Communication from the United Kingdom, and is pursuing a PhD.
“I am a law-abiding citizen and as a professor and government servant, I can not think of willfully writing against any institution. I just shared a post on Facebook and didn’t even write a word on my post,” Sufyan told Voicepk.net over the phone.
He said although everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, he himself never indulges in such debates.
“I am still teaching at the university as per routine. It is ironic that the day after the FIR, I delivered a lecture on human rights including freedom of expression enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” he said.
Who is the complainant?
The FIR was registered by Nasir Tanveer, a known member and officer bearer of PTI, Bahawalpur. He was given the position of President of Insaf Welfare Wing Bahawalpur in December 2021, a notification of which is available with Voicepk.net.
“I registered the FIR as I felt it was my duty to teach such people a lesson. No one can be allowed to raise questions about our beloved army. I have also registered three sedition cases against Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif and Mir Hasil Bizenjo for talking against the Pakistan Army and will continue to do so,” Tanveer said.
When asked why he opted to register such a case and that too against a university professor when the PTI, as a policy, is against the registration of sedition cases and considers itself the biggest victim of the law, Tanveer said that “For [him], the country comes first.”
Local sources told Voicepk.net that Nasir Tanaveer did not enjoy a good reputation, and that he is infamous for registering false cases on people for blackmailing purposes.
When asked about these accusations, Tanveer refuted such claims and said he is “a true patriot who highlights social problems without any fear or favour.”
However, Aoun Abbas Bappi, President of PTI South Punjab distanced himself and the party from the complainant. Bappi said that no one in PTI Bahawalpur knows this man. He further stated that the Insaf Welfare Wing (of which Tanveer was president) had been dissolved a year earlier, and he was not nominated for any other slot.
Nasir Tanveer however claims that he is still the office bearer of PTI Bahawalpur’s Insaf Welfare Wing and his body was never dissolved.