PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Friday suspended the recent government notification for the empowerment of the Dera Ismail Khan district administration to register cases against the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement’s leaders on the charge of spreading hate against state institutions.
A bench consisting of Justice Wiqar Ahmad and Justice Shahid Khan issued notices to the provincial chief minister, chief secretary, advocate general and relevant officials seeking their response to the petition of advocate Shabbir Hussain Gigyani against the Aug 9 notification.
It fixed Sept 13 for next hearing into the case suspending action on the notification until then.
The petitioner contended that the government misinterpreted Section 196 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for empowering an additional assistant commissioner (AAC) to receive complaints from former federal minister Ali Ameen Gandapur or any other interested party and lodge FIRs with police.
Petitioner insists PTI govt misinterpreted law for political gains
He requested the court to suspend the notification until the final disposal of the petition as an interim relief saying as there is strong apprehension of its misuse and abuse by the respondents, including the government, to cause ‘chaos in the peaceful political and social atmosphere’ of the province.
Mr Gigyani insisted that the notification was meant to misuse the law to achieve political goals and create anarchy in the province.
The provincial cabinet had allowed the registration of cases on Aug 18 and issued the impugned notification the next day declaring, “In exercise of powers conferred by Section 196 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and in pursuance of cabinet decision on August 18, 2022, KP government is pleased to empower Mr Muneer Ahmed, Additional Assistant Commissioner, Dera Ismail Khan, to receive written complaints from Mr Gandapur or any other interested party and require local police to lodge FIRs under sections 108A, 153-A and 505 of the Pakistan Penal Code, read with any other enabling provisions of law, and to sanction and pursue such cases within his respective jurisdiction with effect from August 18, 2022.”
Section 153-A of the law deals with cases against those promoting enmity among different groups, while Section 108-A is about abetment in Pakistan of offences committed overseas.
Section 505 of the PPC covers statements on public mischief.
Mr Gigyani argued that the respondents had wrongly interpreted Section 196 of the CrPC and issued the impugned notification for the registration of FIR, initiation of criminal proceedings, and opening of criminal cases against anyone.
He contended that Section 196 of the CrPC was meant for empowering the courts to take cognisance for trial of any such offence mentioned in the said section after completion of investigation and was not applicable before registration of FIR or case.
The petitioner said Section 196 of the CrPC was meant for trial by courts and not for the lodging of FIR, initiation of criminal cases or institution of criminal complaints.
He said the section in question did not empower any ‘officer’ what to say about a private person (Mr Gandapur) to direct registration of FIR or initiation of a criminal case.
Additional advocate general Rabnawaz Khan appeared for the provincial government and requested the court not to suspend the notification.
The respondents in the petition are the chief minister, chief and law secretaries, Mr Gandapur and the administration department’s cabinet section through its secretary and deputy secretary.
Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2022