ISLAMABAD: Observing that the sit-in at Faizabad has apparently been ‘facilitated’ to push the country into a crisis, a judge of the Islamabad High Court on Friday ordered the district administration to take all necessary steps to clear the intersection of all protesters.
Subsequently, the district administration served a final notice to the protesters to vacate the road.
Around 2,500 members of the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR), led by firebrand cleric Khadim Rizvi have been camping on Faizabad, the main road into the capital, for the past 10 days, hampering the movement of traffic to and from the capital city. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday observed that it was still a mystery how the protesters entered into the capital in the first place.
While reprimanding the district administration for acting like mere spectators, Justice Siddiqui “observe with great concern that district administration not only failed to perform its duty as was required, rather from the mannerism it appears that sit-in has been facilitated to put the country into a crisis situation.”
Justice Siddiqui further observed that the “District Administration should not have allowed them [protesters] to enter into ICT (Islamabad Capital Territory), but it is a mystery that protesters are sitting for the last 10 days and district administration is acting like a spectator of a cricket match.”
Subsequently, Justice Siddiqui directed the district administration to take all necessary steps for clearing Faizabad interchange of all protesters, adding that the district magistrate has the authority under the law to seek assistance from the FC and even the paramilitary Rangers to enforce the writ of the state, if circumstances so demand.
“This task must be completed by tomorrow [Saturday],” he said.
The order, along with the observations, came in response to a petition filed by a lawyer, Syed Pervaiz Zahoor, who sought court’s intervention against the protesters occupying the Faizabad interchange.
In the order, Justice Siddiqui noted that the ICT district administration and the police were responsible for maintaining law and order situation in the capital while protecting the fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed by the constitution.
“I fail to understand that when this court has already passed a detailed judgment that any citizen exercising his right of free movement or expression, cannot be allowed to take away other citizens’ rights and reduce the capital territory into a siege area,” he stated in the order, adding that the administration should not have allowed them to enter into ICT without a guarantee that protesters will not occupy any other place except the Democracy Park and Speech Corner.
Friday’s order reminded the district magistrate that he has the authority to ensure the government’s writ is enforced and to take appropriate action in accordance with law against those who take law into their own hands.
“Freedom of expression or free movement does not mean that other citizens and inhabitants of twin cities may be left at the mercy of these protesters,” Justice Siddiqui noted.
On Thursday the court had passed an order that since most of the protesters’ demands had been met by the parliament, the protesters vacate Faizabad Chowk.
“But it is so unfortunate that instead of obeying the direction of the court, the leadership of protesters, sit-in showed defiance and also used abusive language, which is unprecedented by itself,” he added.
On Friday, the Deputy Commissioner Capt (retd) Mushtaq Ahmad, the Deputy Inspector General (Operation Division) Mirvais Niaz the DSP Legal Azhar Hussain Shah and Deputy Attorney General Arshad Mahmood Kiani appeared before the court.
On November 16, Justice Siddiqui passed two orders on two petitions pertaining to the sit-in.
In one order, the court summoned the Inspector General of Police (IGP), chief commissioner and deputy commissioner to appear in person along with a report revealing “what preventive measures were taken to lead the protesters, dharna to the designated place”.
While taking notice of authorities’ inaction to enforce the writ of the government and IHC’s order, Justice Siddiqui had asked the IGP, Chief Commissioner and DC to explain “why the law did not take its course to enforce the writ of the government.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2017.