The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Friday suspended the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) cabinet’s notification empowering a DI Khan official to register cases against the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leaders for spreading hate against state institutions.
The court issued notices to K-P chief minister, provincial cabinet, advocate general and attorney general to submit their response at the next hearing (September 13) against the plea of a senior lawyer pleading the court to declare the provincial cabinet’s August 9 notification null and void.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Waqar Ahmad and Justice Shahid Khan heard the case.
In his petition, lawyer Shabbir Hussain Gigyani, who approached the court on Wednesday, contended that the government misinterpreted Section 196 of the Code of Criminal Procedure when it authorised an additional assistant commissioner (AAC) to receive complaints from former federal minister Ali Amin Gandapur or any other interested party and lodge FIRs.
During Friday’s hearing, Gigyani, who is also a Pakistan Bar Council member, apprised the court that the said action of the provincial government was against the Constitution and law.
Terming it a violation of the rights of citizens, he stressed that the government misinterpreted the law to achieve “political objectives”.
“The move also poses a threat to the law and order,” he added.
He contended that Section 196 of the CrPC empowered the courts to take cognisance of a trial of any such offence mentioned in the said section after completion of an investigation and was not applicable before the registration of an FIR.
According to the writ petition, Section 196 of the Code of Criminal Procedure – under which the additional assistant commissioner has been authorised to lodge FIRs – does not empower any officer to do so against any individual, but can only seek permission from the judiciary to file a case.
“If an individual is found guilty during the investigation, the judiciary has the power to register an FIR under Section 196 of the CrPC. Despite this, the K-P cabinet approved the illegal move and gave this authority to the additional assistant commissioner.”
It may be recalled that on Tuesday, the K-P government, through a notification, had empowered a government official in DI Khan district to receive complaints from senior PTI leader Gandapur or any other interested party for the registration of cases falling under certain sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which otherwise require obtaining permission from the provincial government.
“In exercise of powers conferred by Section 196 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and in pursuance of the cabinet decision on August 18, 2022, the K-P government is pleased to empower Muneer Ahmed, the additional assistant commissioner of Dera Ismail Khan, to receive written complaints from Ali Ain Khan Gandapur or any other interested party and require the local police to lodge FIRs under sections 108-A, 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,” the notification stated.
Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, a lawyer approached Peshawar’s East Cantonment police station, seeking registration of FIRs against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Attaullah Tarar, Pervez Rashid, Ayaz Sadiq, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and others for inciting the public against the army, making statements against the judiciary, hurting the country’s ideological base and promoting rebellion through their statements.