Pakistan authorises interior secretary to prosecute offences against the state - GulfToday

Pakistan authorises interior secretary to prosecute offences against the state

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Maryam Nawaz (left), Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Fazlur Rehman attend a rally in Peshawar. File photo

Tariq Butt, Correspondent

The government has approved new measures that empowered the interior secretary to register sedition cases against those involved in maligning State and its institutions.

The move came amid heightened protest of the 11-party opposition alliance, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) with its leaders claiming that the measure was meant to target them.

The federal cabinet has authorised the interior secretary to register "prosecution for offences against the state” on behalf of the central government.


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After this approval, the complaints in all such cases would now be lodged by the interior secretary on behalf of the federal government and there would be no need to send the concerned summary for sanction of the cabinet every time.

The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) professes to deal exhaustively with the law of procedure and provides the minutest details to be followed in every matter pertaining to general administration of criminal law. Its Section 196 says prosecution for offences against the state would only be instituted under the authority of the federal or provincial government concerned.

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This photo shows the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supporters in Multan rally. File photo

The consequence of the application of Section 196 was that if the mandatory condition of approval of the federal or provincial government concerned was not obtained, then the entire proceedings would become without jurisdiction or coram non judice - "not before a judge”.

The federal cabinet may authorise the interior secretary under Section 196 to severally file prosecution or complaint on behalf of the federal government in respect of any of the offences mentioned in Section 196.

An official claimed that one of the reasons behind the move was a Supreme Court ruling in 2016 in which it had stated that the prime minister in capacity of the chief executive of the country executes policy decisions but does not take them by himself without consulting and obtaining approval from the cabinet.

Due to the judgment, he said, each and every decision, even those of the administrative nature is being sent to the cabinet for approval, which in fact is delegation of power and not any amendment to the CrPC.

The Supreme Court had ruled that the federal government was defined as prime minister and the federal cabinet and, therefore, decisions taken by ministries or cabinet committees were considered recommendatory only and have to be approved by the full cabinet chaired by the prime minister to become government policies.

In October, following the registration of a sedition case against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and top Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders including Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, the federal government had to distance itself from the it.

Later the prime minister expressed his strong displeasure over the development. It transpired later that the Lahore police had registered the case under sedition and other serious charges against Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and 41 other senior leaders of the party, on the complaint of a citizen, Badar Rasheed, for delivering hate speeches against the state and its institutions.

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