The Lahore High Court (LHC) in Pakistan has annulled Section 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which deals with sedition.
The ruling came on petitions filed by citizens challenging the sedition law because the Government used it against its rivals. The petitions argued that the sedition act was enacted during British colonial rule and was used to silence critics for political purposes.
Justice Shahid, Karim of LHC, agreed with the petitioners. He pronounced the judgment, stating that the sedition law is “violative of the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan.” The ruling has been widely welcomed by civil society and human rights activists.
Sedition is a criminal offense in Pakistan under Section 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
As per the section’s definition, any person who attempts to bring the Federal or Provincial Government established by law into hatred or contempt or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards it through spoken or written words, signs, visible representations, or other means, 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 a fine.
The sedition law has been controversial in Pakistan as the Government often uses it to silence its critics and political opponents. The recent judgment by Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court (LHC) annulling Section 124-A of the PPC is a positive step towards ensuring freedom of expression and protecting citizens’ rights.