ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday issued show-cause notices to the district administration Islamabad and interior ministry officials over their failure to implement the court order to disperse the Faizabad sit-in that has been going on for a fortnight.
“This is a very serious situation that despite [a] request [made] to the leadership of the sit-in and directions given to the district administration, no material progress has been shown except negotiations, negotiations and negotiations,” Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui noted in his order.
The judge said the district administration found itself in the arena of uncertainty due to the involvement of high-ups, especially Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, adding no material efforts had been made and it was “not appreciable”.
While issuing show-cause notices to the Islamabad IG, chief commissioner, deputy commissioner, interior secretary and joint secretary, the court enquired the respondents why contempt of court proceedings might not be initiated against them as they had failed to comply with the Nov 17 court order.
Subsequently, Justice Siddiqui issued directives that a “file of contempt proceedings be prepared and numbered separately”.
“[The] Islamabad High Court, being custodian of the rights of more than eight lakh citizens dwelling within the Islamabad Capital Territory, cannot leave them at the mercy of those who siege the city at a place which is of most strategic in nature,” the judge stated.
Taking notice of non-compliance of the court order passed on Nov 17, Justice Siddiqui said it was beyond comprehension how any person or group of persons whosoever could be allowed to frustrate an order passed by a Constitutional Court and “at their own extend the date of implementation”.
“This really is an effort to undermine the authority of the court which cannot be taken lightly,” he said.
During the proceedings, a copy of the judgment in which certain guidelines and parameters for handling a protest or sit-in are mentioned as well as a place known as ‘Democracy Park and Speech Corner’ was handed over to Interior Minister Iqbal.
The interior minister undertook to take all necessary steps to implement the judgment in letter and spirit.
The details emerged during the hearing of petitions filed in connection with the sit-in of the religious groups at Islamabad’s Faizabad Interchange.
During the hearing, Justice Siddiqui sought reply from the interior minister on the government’s failure to implement the IHC orders to disperse the participants of the sit-in.
The interior minister told the court that several religious parties and groups had approached the government, offering to peacefully resolve the issue.
Answering a question why the protesters were not asked to move to the designated area, Iqbal said the religious groups behind the rally had assured the government that they would only record their protest in the capital and leave, but instead they staged a sit-in.
On Iqbal’s request to give 48 hours’ time, Justice Siddiqui remarked “take two or three days but you would be responsible for the consequences”.
Although the interior minister took responsibility for the respondents’ inaction against the protestors, the court issued show-cause notices to other key government officials as well.
Earlier, the interior minister made a categorical statement before the court that maintaining the law and order situation and ensuring protection of rights of every citizen was the responsibility of the government and it had all the intent to fulfil the same.
He said all efforts had been made to implement the court’s order with reference to the applicability and enforcement of law.
“Since the issue is very sensitive and there are genuine apprehensions of district administration that protestors may resist against the lawful effort of the administration with some hostility and arms, a number of efforts have been made to settle and sort out the issue,” the minister submitted.
“Unfortunately, no effort of settlement has proved successful,” he admitted.
Being interior minister, Iqbal undertook that writ of the state would be enforced and rights of the citizens would be fully protected and restored.
He added he was confident that the matter would be resolved in a couple of days and it might be posted for Thursday. The court will now resume hearing on November 23.