An additional advocate general has been asked to submit his arguments regarding whether the chief minister, being chief executive of the province, can lead or participate in a protest rally.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed passed the order while hearing two identical petitions seeking a ban on rallies and installation of banners and billboards by PML-N, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and PPP.
During the hearing, the additional advocate general told the court that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was not using state machinery for the party’s rally on October 28 (today). He maintained that PML-N had no plans of using state machinery for political purposes in the future either.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, during the hearing, also remarked that no political party – whether the PML-N or PPP – should use government resources for their rallies.
The law officer informed the court that the Parks and Horticulture Authority did not charge any fee for putting up banners or billboards relating to public awareness and welfare. Banners put up by political parties on The Mall fall into that category, the court was told. The officer said that allegations that the PHA favoured the PML-N or any other party were baseless. At this, Justice Saeed sought a written reply from PHA director general and also directed him to produce PHA rules in court.
The judge adjourned hearing of the petitions for two weeks. Petitioners submitted that the rallies were being held in the ongoing week and that the petitions would become ineffective after two weeks. The judge, however, observed that there would be more rallies in future.
One of the petitions was submitted by the Punjab Union of Journalists (PUJ) president Rana Azeem. He has prayed to the court to order the removal of political banners and billboards from The Mall and impose a ban on their rallies in the city.
The second petition, filed by Advocate Abdul Hameed Rana, sought a ban on PML-N’s rally. He contended that government machinery was being used to make the rally a success.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2011.