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A statement that lacks the ingredients of incitement, fear or alarm to the public nor it effects the public tranquility cannot be prohibited: Says IHC

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The Islamabad High Court deciding the case in W.P No.419-2023 Shandana Gulzar Khan vs. The State and others quashed an FIR registered under the sedition law, section 124-A of PPC. The FIR was lodged against an office holder of a political partyย  on account of her statement given on a TV show. The complainant lodged an FIR on the basis of her statement alleging that the accused, inter alia, had tried incite the general public against the government andย  disturbed the public peace and tranquility . The Court after having carefully examined the statement which was pivot of the case, held that “….it lacks the ingredients of incitement, fear or alarm to the public nor it effects the public tranquility, whereas the right to freedom of speech in terms of Article 19 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, though extends the complete freedom of speech subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court or incitement to an offence whereas, the term โ€œreasonable restrictionโ€ imposed by law is the key factor in determination of the conduct of any person or accused in such type of cases….”

The Court has further discussed the right of free speech under article 19 of the Constitution and the term “reasonable restrictions” used therein in the following words;

โ€œreasonable restrictionโ€, which in ordinary sense means, a fair, proper or moderate under the circumstance; sensible confinements within the bounds and limits of law, so that the rights of other may also be protected and any words or gesture creates the disharmony and effects the public peace and tranquility and creates
incitement of sedition, where people should be compelled to take the law in their own hands against the Government and expressed their
rebellious conduct. The plain and ordinary meaning of the constitutional framework is to protect the freedom of speech in all sense, except where
law has prohibited the same against a particular classes defined in Article 19 of the Constitution in examining the reasonableness of any restriction on the right to freedom of expression it should essentially be kept in mind as to whether in purporting to exercise freedom of expression one was
infringing upon the right of freedom of expression of others, and also violating their right to live a nuisance free life.”

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W.P_No.419-2023_638156868946865418

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