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March 29, 2020

Prayer leaders arrested for defying govt orders granted bail

Karachi

March 29, 2020

The city courts on Saturday granted bail to the pesh imams (prayer leaders) who had defied the government’s orders of restricting the Friday prayers to five people as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19.

The Kharadar police presented pesh imams Ikram, Mubin and Ahmed before a South district judicial magistrate, contending that they had defied the government’s ban and led a prayer congregation of hundreds of people.

The Shah Faisal Colony police presented prayer leader Syed Afzal Chishti before an East district judicial magistrate, the Shah Latif police presented six pesh imams before a Malir district judicial magistrate, and the Pakistan Bazaar police presented prayer leaders Noshad Ahmed and Mumtaz Ashrafi before a West district judicial magistrate.

The courts granted bail to all the arrested pesh imams for a sum ranging between Rs5,000 and Rs10,000, with the order to release them. The courts also reprimanded them for their actions and directed them to strictly follow the government’s orders.

A day earlier, the police had registered around 100 cases against violations of the ban on congregational prayers. Of these, 29 were registered in the West and Central districts.

All of the violators were booked under sections 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Section 269 reads: “Whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.”

Section 188 states: “Whoever, knowing that, by an order promulgated by a public servant lawfully empowered to promulgate such order, he is directed to abstain from a certain act, or to take certain order with certain property in his possession or under his management, disobeys such direction, shall, if such disobedience causes or tends to cause obstruction, annoyance or injury or risk of obstruction, annoyance or injury, to any persons lawfully employed, be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one month or with fine which may extend to six hundred rupees, or with both; and if such disobedience causes or tends to cause danger to human life, health or safety, or causes or tends to cause a riot or affray, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to three thousand rupees, or with both.”

According to the explanation provided: “It is not necessary that the offender should intend to produce harm, or contemplate his disobedience as likely to produce harm. It is sufficient that he knows of the order which he disobeys, and that his disobedience produces, or is likely to produce harm.”