The Lahore High Court on Wednesday sought replies from the federal government and others on a plea requesting to declare the sedition law null and void. The high court also sought the assistance of the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Shehzad Ata Elahi and the Advocate General of Punjab Ahmad Awais by the next hearing. The petitioner’s counsel argued that the sedition law was a relic of British colonialism, which was used to enslave people. The petition submitted that sections 124-A, 153-A and 505 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) were inconsistent with the fundamental rights as citizens were being exploited through the aforementioned laws for political interests. It furthered that the Indian Supreme Court had also stopped the implementation of the sedition law, calling it a product of the British era, while also staying sedition cases and trials by granting interim relief. The petition maintained that under the Constitution of Pakistan, citizens could not be subjected to state oppression by depriving them of their fundamental rights, and asked the court to annul the British-era sedition law as it was “unconstitutional”. Though politicians and journalists are the main victims of sedition charges, the federal government has defended Section 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code-1860 and said that “the section imposed a valid restriction to free speech as long as any spoken or written words have the intention or tendency to create disorder or disturb public peace by resorting to violence against the respective governments”. Advocate Abuzar Salman Niazi argued the case on behalf of the petitioner. Interestingly, a similar provision was suspended by the Supreme Court of India. According to Niazi, Section 124-A is opposed to the preamble of the Constitution, which commands that sovereignty over Pakistan on behalf of Allah belongs to the people of Pakistan. “This notion asserts the paramountcy of the people’s will over everything. The elected representatives are nothing but the mediums through which the collective will of the people is expressed, asserted and executed. The people possess the authority not only to change the existing government but to alter the Constitution itself.” “Interestingly, the Supreme Court of India in the Vombatkere case (2022) granted a status quo order with respect to the enforcement of Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code,” he adds. The ministries of law as well as human rights submitted their replies to the LHC which was hearing a petition challenging the vires of Section 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 is inconsistent with and in derogation of fundamental rights provided under articles, 9,14,15,16,17, 19 and 19-A of Constitution. The law ministry stated that it is a well-established fact that the right of freedom of speech under Article 19 of the Constitution is not an absolute and unfettered right but is subject to the reasonable restriction imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, the commission of or incitement to an offe?ce.