Don’t expect democratic govt to curb freedom of speech: IHC

INP
February 18, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Monday wrapped up the bail petitions of 23 workers of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement and Awami Workers Party who were arrested by the Islamabad police last...

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday wrapped up the bail petitions of 23 workers of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) and Awami Workers Party (AWP) who were arrested by the Islamabad police last month while protesting against the arrest of PTM chief Manzoor Pashteen.

As IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah resumed the hearing into bail petitions filed by the 23 protesters, Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat toldthe court that the case against the protesters had been dropped.

On the basis of the deputy commissioner’s statement, the IHC wrapped up the bail petitions of the protesters. After the statement of the Islamabad administration, all petitions have become ineffective, said Chief Justice Minallah.

On February 2 the court was told that Section 124 A (related to sedition) had been deleted but Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997 had been inserted in the First Information Report (FIR) against the protesters.

Following this, the IHC on Tuesday sought an explanation from a magistrate for invoking sedition charges against those who were taken into custody during the protest. During today’s proceedings the IHC chief justice said, “We don t expect that a democratic government will curb freedom of expression.” “An elected democratic government cannot place curbs on freedom expression. [We] shouldn’t fear criticism,” he remarked.

“The constitutional courts will protect the constitutional rights of the people.” “Everyone’s constitutional rights will be protected. This is Pakistan not India,” Justice Minallah said.

“If you want to protest, get permission. If you don’t get permission, the court is here,” he said. Islamabad Advocate General Tariq Mehmood Jahangir said that the country had been fighting terrorism for 20 years and the secret agenda of the protesters was worrisome.

“No one should say anything against the state,” he said adding that a written order against those who speak against the state or make hate speeches should also be issued.

“India’s army chief gave statement to occupy Azad Kashmir on Parliament’s direction. This is not the India of Jawaharlal Nehru and Gandhi. The United Nations (UN) must play its role otherwise it will become a very big problem in future.”

“Kashmiris have been persecuted for over 200 days due to the Hindutva ideology while they continue living under a lockdown,” he said.



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