HYDERABAD: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has stayed an FIR registered against two women and as many men under blasphemy law. The Hyderabad circuit bench also put Hyderabad DIG, SSP and assistant sub inspector Bashir Ahmed Janwari, who became complainant in the case, on notice on Friday.
The restraining order was given on a petition filed by Razia Nayab Sarkash, who is among the persons booked for the alleged offense.
The Khanote police station lodged the case on September 27 under Section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which pertains to outraging the religious sentiments of any class of Pakistani citizens. The offense is punishable with up to 10 years imprisonment after conviction, as well as a fine.
The FIR also nominated Abbas Ali Khoso alias Sojhro Sindhi, his daughter Sindhia and son-in-law Nazeer Ahmed Khoso, besides eight to 10 unidentified persons. The police arrested Abbas Ali on Wednesday night while a judicial magistrate remanded him to 14 days in jail on Thursday.
Sarkash has been accused of solemnising a marriage between Sindhia and Nazeer in Zaimi village, near the Manzoorabad area of Khanote, in a way which ridiculed and profaned the Islamic marriage process. “Nayab Sarkash read the nikkah according to Shariat-e-Latifi [Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s canonical law],” the FIR reads.
However, the petitioner claimed that she attended a marriage ceremony of one of her political fellows where she only read poetry of Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. “… [a] few people introducing themselves as religious scholars and leaders started a defamatory, insulting and abusive campaign against the petitioner and others on social media,” she stated in the petition and termed the charges false, fake and baseless allegations.
Seeking revocation of the FIR, her counsel, Advocate Sajjad Ahmed Chandio, contended that the law does not allow an individual policeman to register such a case on behalf of the state. He read out Section 196 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to corroborate his argument.
“… no court shall take 108-A, 153-A, 294-A or 295-A or 505 of the same code unless upon the complaint made by order of or under authority from the central government or the provincial government concerned or some officers empowered [on] this behalf by either of the two governments,” reads the Section.
Chandio maintained that the court can take cognisance of such a complaint only if the case is lodged by the authority concerned. “No individual can lodge a complaint under 295-A of the PPC [on behalf of the state]”. In the Khanote police station’s FIR, neither the Centre nor the provincial government authorised the policeman to act on their behalf and lodge the case, as such an authorisation has not been cited in the FIR.
The lawyer cited the Supreme Court’s judgments in identical cases where the court was of the view that in the absence of an order by the government, an individual lacked authority to register an FIR.
The petitioner requested the court to quash the FIR and declare that an individual is not empowered to lodge an FIR alleging therein an offence against the state, as defined in Section 196 of CrPC. She also urged the SHC to order the Hyderabad DIG and Jamshoro SSP to initiate departmental action against ASI Janwari.
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