Sahiwal tragedy: Centre powered to form judicial panel, says LHC

Published: February 5, 2019
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PHOTO: EXPRESS

PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan has said the courts are not empowered to order the formation of a judicial commission as that power now lies with the federal government.

An LHC division bench, headed by CJ Shamim, on Monday was hearing petitions against the Sahiwal Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and forming a judicial commission to probe the matter.

Chief Justice Shamim made it clear that if anyone tried to change the record of the Sahiwal shootout, they would be sent to jail.

“The decision to initiate a judicial inquiry cannot be taken by the courts,” said CJ Shamim.

The bench observed that the court had no power to form a judicial commission to investigate incidents like the Sahiwal killings as the same now rested with the federal government.

The CJ further observed that it was the responsibility of the federal government to solve the Sahiwal killings’ case.

As the petitioners’ counsel cited the formation of a judicial commission to probe into the Model Town incident as a precedent, the LHC chief justice said, “There is no such provision now as the law has been changed.”

The judge directed that a response from the government on resolving the case should be presented in the next hearing.

The hearing of the case was adjourned until February 7.

Earlier, the chief justice snubbed JIT head DIG Aijaz Shah for failing to present the investigation report in the court.

Later, the JIT’s initial report was presented to the CJ.

The government’s lawyer apprised the bench that the JIT had collected all of the evidence in the case and recorded all statements.

The CJ directed the law officer to prepare a list of all of the evidence and provide the same to the court in writing.

The CJ also inquired after the arrest of the officer who gave the orders for the Sahiwal operation and the other suspects involved in the case.

The petitioner’s lawyer said that 16 people were involved in the case, but only five had been arrested.

The head of the JIT informed the court that the officer who had given the orders for the operation was suspended and made part of the investigation.

The CJ also showed displeasure over the non-appearance of inspector general of police and inquired if court’s previous order had been circulated and enforced.

The law officer informed the court that directions had been issued to all DPOs to avert repeat of Sahiwal-like incident in the future.

Heirs hold presser

The heirs of the victims of the Sahiwal incident have said if the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) fails to satisfy their apprehensions, they reserve the right to demand the formation of a judicial commission.

Deceased Khalil’s brothers, Jameel and Jaleel, along with their counsel Barrister Ehtisham and Punjab Chief Minister’s spokesperson Shahbaz Gill made this demand during a news conference after meeting JIT chief Aijaz Shah.

Jameel said the government had given hope that the ongoing investigations by the JIT would provide them justice. “We will see how well the government and the JIT keep their promise,” he said.

Barrister Ehtisham said they met with the JIT head and explained all their apprehensions, including the trust deficit. “We have raised objection over the police’s move to invite a minor, Umair, for identification parade. It will be very difficult for Umair, who is still in a state of trauma, to identify the killers of his father, mother and sister.”

Ehtisham said, “Umair, in his statement, pointed out that the police opened fire on him first then they spoke to somebody on the phone. After hanging up the phone, the police opened fire again.”

He said Umair’s statement indicated that the police were taking orders from someone. “Now it is the responsibility of the JIT to find the perpetrator giving orders on the phone,” he added.

 

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