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Lahore High Court Strikes Down Pakistan's Colonial-Era Sedition Law

The Lahore High Court was hearing petitions which said that the government used the sedition law to thwart rivals.

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The Lahore High Court invalidated Pakistan's sedition law on Thursday, 30 March, which criminalised the incitement of "disaffection" against the government and said it was inconsistent with the constitution.

The law states:`

“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.”

The Lahore High Court's Justice Shahid Karim invalidated the law while hearing a batch of petition seeking to annul Section 124A of Pakistan's Penal Code, which claimed that the law was being misused by the government to thwart their rivals.

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One of the petitions, which was filed by one Haroon Farooq, noted that the law has been “recklessly used in Pakistan” as a tool of exploitation that is used to curb free speech and expression which is guaranteed under Article 19 of Pakistan's constitution.

“Section 124-A Pakistan Penal Code 1860 is an illegitimate limitation and restriction on the legitimate, legal and lawful exercise of the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech and expression (in particular) and various other constitutional freedoms (in general),” it said.

Justice Karim is also the same judge who convicted former dictator General Pervez Musharraf in 2019, sentencing him to death in absentia.

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Topics:  Pakistan   sedition law 

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