ISLAMABAD   -  Former chairman Senate and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Mian Raza Rabbani on Friday requested a House Committee to take up his pending private member bill that seeks to abolish the colonial-era sedition law. He said that the consideration of the bill has become important in wake of registration of a case against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other top leaders of opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) by police in Lahore. 

The opposition party Senator Rabbani in a letter written to the Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik said that meeting of the committee should be called to consider his bill seeking to delete sedition law Section 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860.  “In the given circumstances when sedition has become a moot point for concern of the entire nation, it will be appropriate if an emergent meeting of the Standing Committee is called and the said Bill is taken up for consideration,” reads the letter. 

 PPP stalwart Rabbani had submitted the “Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Section 124-A) to the Senate Secretariat in February 2020. The bill was introduced in the house through a voice vote in June this year and referred to the Senate Committee on Interior on the same day. 

The bill states that Section 124-A is part of the inherited colonial structure of governance that continues in Pakistan. 

Section 124-A, commonly known as Sedition Law states, “Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Federal or Provincial Government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life to which fine may be added.” 

“This section was for the natives who had to be kept under control least they incited rebelling against the masters,” says the statement of objects and reasons of the draft bill. 

It further says that this law served as a brutal occupying force and today is being applied with increasing regularity to crush political dissent and make the citizen submit to unquestionable obedience. 

It further says that today, the relationship between the rulers and ruled is no longer one of master and servant and the respect of the government cannot be regulated through law. The respect for the state arises from the individual freedom and ability to govern, it adds. 

The PTI government views that it cannot abolish the sedition law that protects security and sanctity of the country. 

The Senate’s rules of business do not put a time limit for a private member bill to be presented in the house for final voting after its introduction.