Indian newspaper welcomes ‘Bold Message from Lahore’

An Indian newspaper has praised a Lahore High Court decision on striking down the infamous sedition laws, saying that though both India and Pakistan inherited the law at the time of Partition, the Lahore High Court has offered a glimpse of a nation that could have been, and yet might emerge at a time when Pakistan appears to be besieged by a flurry of issues caused by years of martial laws, economic failures, and security issues. The LHC ordered to put an end to colonial rule and its offspring, the colonial mindset, by invalidating Section 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code. The law is called the “sedition law” which was entirely adopted by the two countries at independence.

The Indian Express reported that the provision was included in local laws in 1870, 10 years after the Penal Code was first published, in an editorial with the provocative title “A bold Message from Lahore”. Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the first individual to be found guilty under the legislation in 1897, and the Raj government of the time used it to silence the voices of those who resisted colonial authority. He was charged with treason twice, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the man who defended him in both instances. He was both free and condemned at different points in time. In recent years, both the Imran government and its successor, Shehbaz Sharif, arbitrarily used the law against their political rivals. The Modi administration in India, according to the newspaper, is also using the legislation frequently. Both India and Pakistan had the same law, Section 124-A, at the time of Partition which states: “Whoever brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government will be punished with a prison sentence that can range from months to life, and/or a fine.”