Aurat March: LHC dismisses petition against participants

LAHORE: A sessions court on Thursday dismissed a petition seeking an order for registration a FIR against social activists Marvi Sirmad, Tooba Syed and other participants of Aurat March held last month in Islamabad.

Besides merits, the court also dismissed the petition on the ground of legal and territorial jurisdiction of the sessions court to entertain it.

The court ruled that this is neither the correct forum for this petition, nor do the speech acts identified in the application constitute offences as claimed by the petitioner. The police was right to exercise caution in admitting an FIR against a constitutionally protected gathering raising slogans regarding social issues.

The court also observed that the March was a peaceful demonstration raising the issue of gender-based oppression that deserves attention.

The court said there has been no reported instance of violence or public disorder and in fact the protest took place with the permission of the city administration.

The court noted that the poster allegedly displayed at the March did not specifically name any holy personage, thus not attracting any defamation provisions.

“The fact that the petitioner took offence from a vague slogan and labelled it as blasphemy reflects his own state of mind and pattern of thought. He has alleged a very serious offence without any iota of supporting material,” the court held.

The court observed that this is an alarming trend in the society where such serious allegations are routinely levelled on the basis of subjective inferences and interpretations forcefully imposed upon speech of the citizens.

“This trend is dangerous because every speech has a potential to be twisted and given a meaning of one’s own liking or disliking,” the court added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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