Provision of high treason law challenged in PHC

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PESHAWAR: A lawyer on Thursday moved the Peshawar High Court against a provision of the high treason law that empowers only the federal government to authorize a person to file a complaint of high treason.

In the petition, Ali Azim Afridi prayed the court to declare unconstitutional Section 3 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973, to the extent of placing a restriction on the filing of a complaint by citizens without the permission of the federal government.

He also requested the court to declare unconstitutional Section 5 of the Criminal Law Amendment (Special Court) Act, 1976, to the extent of only allowing the federal government to forward a complaint to a special court and thus, sidelining the public citizenry.

The respondent in the petition is the federation of Pakistan through the law secretary.

The petitioner said the Constitution provided for access to justice, which was both a right in itself and the mean of protecting and restoring other basic human rights.

He said the Constitution equally protected fundamental rights by allowing the citizenry to make recourse to the constitutional courts in case those enlightened rights were put at stake resulting from the introduction of any law or any custom or usage having the force of law.

The petitioner said the Constitution also allowed constitutional courts to declare laws inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights to be void.

He contended that his grievance revolved around Section 3 of the High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973, wherein taking cognizance of the offense of high treason was bound up with a complaint to be made by a person authorized by the federal government.

The petitioner said the provision in question was inconsistent with the Constitution and jurisprudence in vogue.

He contended that as such, the restrictive clause of such a nature prevented the people from agitating their standpoint in the shape of a complaint, if any, before the court of law.

The petitioner said loyalty to the State was the basic duty of every citizen and that obedience to the Constitution and law was the inviolable obligation of every citizen wherever he might be and of every other person for the time being within Pakistan as such permission to file complaint against a person found guilty of acts of abrogation, subversion or validation was inviolable for the public citizenry.

He added that the stakeholders at times ran from pillar to post for facilitating, subverting, abrogating or validating the military takeover, leaving the citizenry to safeguard the Constitutional ethos of the state.

The petitioner referred to several superior court judgments in support of his contentions.

He contended that adherence to the Constitution and law was the inviolable obligation of all citizens.

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