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August 18, 2019

Peshawar court grants bail to Afghan national over flag issue


August 18, 2019

PESHAWAR: A local court on Saturday granted bail to an Afghan national who had been charged and arrested for displaying Afghanistan’s flag here on a billboard on the Independence Day of Pakistan.

The University Town Police have booked the young Afghan, Niamatullah, under Section 153-A PPC for promoting enmity between various groups.

The Judicial Magistrate Peshawar granted bail to him on furnishing surety bonds of Rs90,000.

Salim Shah Hoti, lawyer for Niamatullah, argued that the Station House Officer (SHO) or an individual is not allowed to register FIR as only the central or provincial government is authorised under section 196 CrPC to prosecute someone under section 153A PPP. He argued that it is illegal and coram non judice as the concerned SHO exceeded his authority. He noted that the contents of FIR do not attract the section of law under which the accused has been charged.

The lawyer said the maximum punishment of the offence is five years which does not attract the limb of prohibitory clause of section 497 CrPC, hence grant of bail in such cases is a rule.

The court, after hearing the counsel for the accused and the public prosecutor, granted bail to the Afghan national.

Naimatullah, who sold vegetables at the Board Bazaar and is presently residing at Tajabad in Peshawar, was arrested on Thursday by officials of the University Town Police Station when his picture displaying Afghanistan’s flag on a billboard near the Board Bazaar went viral on the social media.

An FIR was registered against him under section 153-A of Pakistan Penal Code dealing with offence of promoting enmity among different groups through words or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise.

Atif Mashal, Afghanistan’s ambassador in Pakistan, wrote on his Facebook page that Niamatullah had been released on Saturday due to the efforts of the Afghan embassy. He said the young Afghan refugee had no ulterior motive, but was showing his love for Afghanistan by displaying the flag.

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