ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Monday declared firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi as well as other leaders of Tehrik-i-Labbaik absconders and initiated the proclamation process against the suspects over their failure to appear for trials of cases relating to the Faizabad sit-in.
ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand issued the proclamation under Section 87 (absconding) against Rizvi and others after they failed to appear before the court to face three separate cases lodged against the clerics and protesters.
Court officials revealed that the court had earlier issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Rizvi and others after they failed to respond to various summonses issued to them. Earlier, a local lawyer Rao Abdul Rahim had appeared on behalf of the clerics and obtained bail for them.
When the court resumed hearing on Monday, prosecutor Shafqaat Chaudhry informed the court that despite service of various summonses, the clerics did not appear. He said that the police could not execute the arrest warrants since the whereabouts of these clerics were not known.
The court then directed the prosecution to issue proclamations for Rizvi and other leaders of Tehreek-e-Labbaik.
Failure to surrender before the court would lead the court to declare them proclaimed offenders and then confiscate their movable and immovable assets.
The 21-day-long sit-in by religious groups’ protesters at Islamabad’s Faizabad Interchange had forced the government to accept Tehreek-e-Labbaik’s demands after a government operation to break up the sit-in went awry and sparked violent protests across the country.
One of the complainants in the FIRs is the father of a child who died on the road because protesters had blocked the roads leading to the hospital.
The sit-in ended after the army brokered a deal between the clerics and the federal government. As a consequence, federal law minister Zahid Hamid had to resign.
Recently, the defence secretary submitted a report to the Islamabad High Court regarding the person who used the name of the chief of army staff (COAS) in the agreement between the leadership of the Faizabad sit-in protesters and the government.
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had directed the defence secretary to hold an inquiry in order to fix liability on the person “who used the name of COAS in the impugned agreement between the Faizabad dharna leadership and the federal government, facilitated by the army”.
Details of the report have yet to surface.
Rizvi used his pulpit to spew derogatory and abusive language at a host of prominent figures, including the chief justice and judges of the Supreme Court.
Based on some remarks Justice Siddiqui made during an earlier hearing of the case, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) issued Justice Siddiqui a show cause notice after a complaint was filed by Jamshed Dasti. The SJC will take up the case on March 7.
The November protest was triggered by a ‘change’ in the oath of lawmakers. Later, a petitioner, Allah Wasaya, challenged the act. Petitioner’s counsel Hafiz Arafat argued that the changes were against Article 8 and 227 of the Constitution and were responsible, for the law and order situation throughout the country.