Peshawar High court quashes FIR against protesters in Lower Dir.

PESHAWAR -- The Peshawar High Court has ordered quashing of an FIR registered against several protesters in Lower Dir for staging a demonstration despite ban imposed by the deputy commissioner under section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure.

A bench consisting of Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar and Justice Dr Khurshid Iqbal ruled that a violation under section 188 (disobedience to order of a public servant) of Pakistan Penal Code was non-cognisable offence for which an FIR could not be lodged.

The bench ruled that cognisance of such an offence could only be taken when a complaint was made in writing to the relevant court by the public servant concerned.

The bench accepted a petition filed by Attiqur Rehman and 21 other protesters, named in the FIR, who had requested quashing of the said FIR by declaring its registration as illegal.

Bench rules police not empowered to lodge cases in non-cognisable offences

The deputy commissioner of Dir Lower had issued a notification on October 6, 2022, placing ban on certain activities under section 144 of CrPC including assembly of people at public places except mosques and other religious places.

The petitioners along with other protesters had staged a protest on October 7 near Timergara Medical College against ignoring them by the college's management for recruitment on certain posts there.

The impugned FIR was registered at Khal police station under section 188 of Pakistan Penal Code and SHO Mehran Shah was complainant in it.

Normally, the deputy commissioners have been issuing orders under section 144 of CrPC in relation to different activities and violation of such orders is an offence under section 188 of PPC.

Police in different districts have frequently been registering FIRs under section 188 of PPC for violation of orders issued under section 144 of CrPC but high court in its order has now declared such practice illegal.

Advocates Asghar Ali and Syed Abdul Haq appeared for the petitioners and contended that the SHO overstepped his powers by registering the FIR for a non-cognisable offence.

The bench explained the mode of dealing with cognisable and non-cognisable offences by police stating that section 154 of CrPC provided the mechanism to be adopted regarding cognisable offences by police.

The bench observed that section 154 of CrPC cast a duty on officer-in-charge of a police station to enter the information regarding commission of a cognisable offence in the relevant book and he had no discretion...

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