IHC shows restraint while deciding corona pleas

Asks plaintiffs to have faith in govt, parliament, says cannot interfere in executive matters


Saqib Bashir April 13, 2020
Asks plaintiffs to have faith in govt, parliament, says cannot interfere in executive matters

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has advised plaintiffs to have faith in the government and parliament and restrained itself from interfering in the affairs of the executive while deciding a number of petitions filed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

On February 11, parents of some students stranded in China’s Wuhan city – the epicenter of novel coronavirus – moved the IHC, requesting the court to order the government to repatriate the students.

During five hearings of the case, the court did not release any order despite pressure of the parents. The court in its ruling observed that the job of the executive must be performed by the government.

In each of the hearings, the foreign ministry presented a progress report in the court. The government gave detailed information to the parents in compliance of the court directives and also supplied essentials to the stranded students, including food and money.

However, the court did not order the government to evacuate the students – a decision that later proved to be judicious after rapid spread of the disease in Pakistan.

Students safer in China than back at home: IHC

On March 30, the court declined a plea demanding judicial inquiry into alleged role of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari in allowing infected pilgrims from Iran to move to their native areas without undergoing quarantine or isolation.

In its written order, the court ruled that the coronavirus challenge could only be overcome through national unity and that it was not the right time to cast doubt on the intentions of the government. It said it is not right to divert the government's attention from the measures taken against coronavirus.

On April 1, the court dismissed a petition seeking evacuation of pilgrims stranded in Iran and Iraq, declaring it as non-maintainable. It observed that it was crucial to trust the government.

It noted that the entire world is infected by the virus. The court cannot intervene in the matter in the presence of the parliament and the executive. The issue pertains to parliament and the foreign ministry and not the court. The judiciary will not embroil itself in any dispute, it said.

On April 2, the court turned down another petition demanding provision of essential goods to the citizens including food and clothes during lockdowns. The court declared that the judiciary will not intervene in the matters of the executive in a situation of crisis.

The court ruled that there is an emergency situation at the global level and it cannot be declared that the government is not doing anything for the citizens. Not just Pakistan but the entire world is facing difficult circumstances due to coronavirus.

On April 3, the court dismissed another petition against government's order to use of three and four-star hotels in Islamabad as quarantine centers. Declaring the plea as unmaintainable, the court stated that the petition is being rejected in view of the larger public interest.

It said these are extraordinary circumstances in which public interest supersedes private interest. Measures taken against spread of coronavirus are indeed meant for public interest, it added.

On April 13, the court turned down a petition filed by elected public representatives against formation of the Corona Relief Tiger Force and declared that the court was exercising judicial restraint by not intervening in matters of the executive.

The court said it would not issue any order which could hamper government's efforts against spread of coronavirus. It said the federal and the provincial governments are taking steps to combat coronavirus. It said the government is taking measures to counter the challenging situation

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