Monday May 27, 2024

Cabinet divided on bill for amendment to PPC, CrPC

By Our Correspondent
February 08, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif presides a cabinet meeting. —APP/ File
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif presides a cabinet meeting. —APP/ File

ISLAMABAD: The controversial bill for amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) Tuesday created a sharp division in the federal cabinet. The bill provides for curbs on criticism on certain state institutions through arrest without warrant and imprisonment of five years along with fine of up to one million rupees.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who was chairing the cabinet meeting, had to constitute a committee of ministers to review the piece of legislation to make it acceptable.

Federal ministers Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Mian Javed Latif, Ahsan Iqbal and Dr. Musadik Malik of PMLN and Sherry Rehman, Syed Naveed Qamar and Hina Rabbani Khar of PPP were among the cabinet members who opposed the bill in its present shape. The committee will consist of federal ministers Rana Sanaullah Khan, Azam Nazir Tarar and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, while two more ministers from the allied parties would be included in it.

Well-placed cabinet sources told The News that Khawaja Saad Rafiq opposed the bill contending that such legislation had proved counterproductive in the past. The bill provides up to five-year imprisonment to whoever ridicules the Pakistan Army and judiciary through any medium. The cabinet summary states that recently the country has witnessed a spate of scandalous, derogatory and vicious attacks on certain institutions of the state, including the judiciary and armed forces. It is well-known that a deliberate cyber campaign has been launched by certain wings for self-serving motives with the objective of inciting and nurturing hatred against important state institutions and their officials. Such attacks are focused on undermining the integrity, stability and independence of the country’s state institutions. The summary explained that judicial and army officials do not have the opportunity to step forward and negate scandalous, derogatory remarks while appearing in the media.

The document suggests that given the long tested legal principle noted in Section 196 of the CrPC, prior approval of the federal government before taking cognizance of the case or registration of a first information report (FIR) against any person has been made mandatory to avoid misuse of the mooted PPC section.