LHC petitioned to declare Official Secrets Act null and void
PTI’s Qureshi presented in special court formed under new law for hearing of cipher case
LAHORE MIRROR — After Sunday’s statement of President Arif Alvi denying he signed the Official Secrets and Army Acts into law, a petition has been filed in the Lahore High Court to stop the implementation of the Official Secrets (Amendment) Act 2023.
According to the local media reports, the petition was filed by Advocate Muhammad Muqsit Saleem, and makes the federal government and the Interior Ministry, among others, parties in the petition.
The petitioner has adopted the stance that President Arif Alvi said he did not sign the Official Secrets Act. It added that the Act was not passed according to the correct procedure.
The petition urged the court to declare the law suspended until a final decision.
The petitioner further said that the Official Secrets (Amendment) Act was unconstitutional, and requested the court to deem clauses 2, 4 and 11 of the Act unconstitutional, and declare it null and void.
The court should order that the implementation of the law be stopped until a final decision.
It is pertinent to mention here that a special court was formed under the Official Secrets (Amendment) Act, and its additional charge given to the judge of the accountability court. Judge Abul Hasnat Zulqernain will hear the cases . PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi has been presented in the court for the hearing of the cipher case registered against him under the Act.
The hearing is being held in-camera.
Official Secrets Act
According to the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill, a person will be guilty of an offense if he intentionally creates a problem of public order or acts against the state.
In addition, if a person attacks or damages a prohibited place and the purpose of this is to directly or indirectly benefit the enemy, then it is also punishable. Under the said amendment bill, the accused will be tried in a special court and a decision will be taken after completing the hearing within 30 days.
According to this law, no military personnel will be able to participate in any political activity for two years after retirement, resignation or dismissal, while military personnel or officers performing duties related to sensitive nature of duty shall not participate in political activities for five years after termination of service.
A retired army officer found guilty of violating the Army Act will be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to two years. Also, if any serving or retired army personnel scandalises or ridicules the army on digital or social media, he will be punished under the Electronic Crimes Act.
According to the said law, any serving or retired officer who causes defamation of the army or spreading hatred against it will be punished with imprisonment of two years and fine under the Army Act.