LAHORE: Punjab Law Minister Basharat Raja claims there is no bar on common citizens to approach police for registration of sedition case against anyone.
“Anyone may submit an application [to police] for registration of an FIR [against any person] for sedition,” he declared in the Punjab Assembly while responding to a point of order by PML-N’s Tahir Khalil Sandhu here on Tuesday.
The opinion is contrary to the views expressed by most of senior lawyers who mention that Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) empowers only the federal government or the provincial government concerned or some officer empowered in this behalf by either of the two governments to get a sedition case registered against a citizen.
The minister denied the PTI government had anything to do with the registration of the sedition case against the PML-N leaders (in the Shahdara police station). He said a special investigation team was probing the case as barring a couple of people, the names of all other accused had been omitted.
Mr Sandhu had stated that the government could not absolve itself of the responsibility for registering sedition cases against people like thrice-elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif, AJK sitting Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, three retired army generals besides others.
The PML-N lawmaker claimed that Lahore Capital City Police Officer Umar Sheikh disclosed in an interview with a private TV channel that permission to register the sedition case had been taken from Prime Minister Imran Khan through the provincial inspector-general of police, while the government, including Basharat Raja, was feigning ignorance about it.
The minister said he didn’t know whether the CCPO would verify the interview or not.
Mr Sandhu told Dawn that there were also Supreme Court verdicts prohibiting registering of sedition cases on the complaints of common citizens.
Meanwhile, a resolution condemning the increase in prices of medicines and tabled by PML-N MPA Anneza Fatima was rejected in the house. The resolution demanded the government immediately withdraw the increase in drug prices, particularly of life-saving drugs.
Samiullah Khan, another N Leaguer, said since the PTI government came to power, the prices of medicines had gone up by 300 per cent.
Responding to the motion, Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid claimed that the prices were increased by the PML-N government, while the PTI administration was providing free of cost medicines to heart patients throughout the province. She also said Rs32 billion were allocated for the health sector in the last budget, while 5.2 million health cards had been issued to provide up to Rs0.7 million health insurance cover.
She regretted that just a single opposition member was in attendance during the Question Hour related to her department and they were now trying to become champions for the cause of the people vis-à-vis medicine prices.
Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2020