LAHORE: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Sunday took suo motu notice of alleged extrajudicial killings in Punjab.
Taking notice of the issue, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar asked Punjab IGP Arif Nawaz to submit a detailed report within seven days.
Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik and Justice Ijazul Ahsan were other two members of the bench that heard the petition and suo motu notice at the Lahore registry.
The bench is seized of matters involving various issues of public interests, like removal of security barricades in the provincial capital, provision of clean drinking water and public health facilities.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif personally appeared before the bench to explain his government’s position regarding provision of clean drinking water to people and disposal of large quantity of untreated waste water into River Ravi.
“The IGP should know the number of police encounters at his fingertips,” the chief justice remarked while rejecting the request of the top police official of extending the deadline one more week.
SC takes suo motu notice of extrajudicial police encounters in Punjab
Justice Nisar said that the court wanted to know how many people had been killed in the police encounters.
Also, the chief justice ordered removal of security barriers placed outside different buildings, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Jati Umra residence, Punjab Chief Minister’s Model Town residence, the Punjab Governor House, Jamia Al Qadsia, residences of Hafiz Saeed and Punjab governor late Salmaan Taseer, Qilla Gujjar Singh Police Station, passport office and other sites.
He also directed the Punjab home department to assure the bench that the barriers will be removed by Sunday midnight.
When the additional home secretary explained to the court that the barriers and hurdles have been placed owing to security reasons, the chief justice directed the authorities concerned to keep security forces alert instead of creating hurdles for the general public.
The court observed that the issue of security barriers outside security agencies’ offices will be dealt with separately after consulting those agencies.
The chief justice admonished the security officials for confining elected representatives at home.
“[Punjab Chief Minister] Shehbaz Sharif is a public figure (awami admi). He should say ‘Shehbaz Sharif is not scared of anyone’.”
The chief minister replied in the affirmative when the chief justice asked him if they (the bench) were right in saying that.
Binding on lower courts: SC command ‘cannot be disregarded’
The chief justice also remarked that the judiciary and the executive need to work together to safeguard public rights and interests.
Meanwhile, the Punjab chief minister sought three weeks’ time to formulate a comprehensive plan for the provision of clean water to the people of Lahore.
The chief minister won kudos for his achievements and development projects being executed by the PML-N government.
However, the bench expressed its dissatisfaction over the state of healthcare conditions and the environmental situation in the province.
“Whoever comes to power should seriously consider making him [Shehbaz] the prime minister,” the chief justice remarked while addressing the chief minister.
To which the chief minister replied, “Why are you after my job.”
“Your own people are after you,” the chief justice quipped.
Justice Nisar also remarked, “I assure you, there will be free and fair elections in the country from now on. I keep repeating this.”
The chief justice expressed his dissatisfaction over non-provision of clean water. He remarked that even water in his chamber was found contaminated.
Justice Nisar observed, “You have been in power in Punjab for the last one decade, yet we have to take notice over such issues.”
During the course of hearing, an interesting dialogue ensued between the chief justice and the chief minister.
It all started when Shehbaz underlined the need for an impartial and independent judiciary.
To which the chief minister commented, “I wish this thinking was prevalent in his (Shehbaz) party.”
“I wish to see you as prime minister if the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz won the upcoming general elections,” the chief justice said in a lighter.
Later, speaking to the media Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the PML-N always gives due respect to courts.
“Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s appearance before the court is proof of this claim, and that he also respects the decisions of the court.”
Sanaullah stressed that it was wrong to suggest that the PML-N only criticised courts’ decisions.
He said the IGP and the Punjab Chief Secretary have already ordered the removal of barricades from all roads except the two near the Punjab Rangers office and the chief minister’s residence.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ