Judicial intervention: Top court issues notices to PAT, PTI leaders

Petition seeks order against protesting parties in the capital

Hasnaat Malik August 21, 2014


In the latest round of a week-long political impasse, focus shifted to the Supreme Court as it issued notices to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri against the ongoing protests in the capital.

The five-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk was hearing a petition filed by the Lahore High Court’s Multan Bar Association seeking an order against the protesting parties, restraining them from illegal and unlawful trespassing of prohibited zones.

The plea also requested that the protesters be legally banned from conducting any sort of marches which violate the fundamental rights of citizens.

During the hearing, the chief justice said that cases have been adjourned today (Wednesday) as lawyers and staff could not reach the court due to the ongoing protests. He pointed out that judges faced difficulties while commuting to the court.

The move comes a day after charged demonstrators demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation stormed into the heavily fortified red zone which includes the National Assembly,
the Supreme Court, diplomatic compounds and the prime minister’s official residence.

With roads packed with angry protesters, most government functionaries were forced to walk on foot to reach their office. As a result, several judges had to use the back door to enter and exit Supreme Court premises.

Referring to the sit-in staged in the heart of the capital, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said that the Constitution outlines a method whereby the government can be ousted but adopting any other way could lead to anarchy. Similarly, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar asked how anyone can wade through this mob.

“I have no concern about their political demands. My concern is that whether my fundamental rights have been hindered due to this situation,” the judge said while referring to Article 15 and 16 of the Constitution.

The court said that every citizen has the right to protest according to the Constitution as long as the demonstration does not cause any hardship to other citizens.

Defending the government’s stance, Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt said that the demands made by both parties were illegal as they had sought the removal of a legitimate government.

The PTI chief has repeatedly said that the Supreme Court is his last hope and he  will accept its verdict over  alleged rigging during last year polls.

Commenting on the development, a senior law officer told The Express Tribune that the apex court is the last hope to save democracy in Pakistan. He revealed that the court might offer a special bench to probe allegations of rigging leveled by Imran’s party.

In addition, the law officer said that the top court is also expected to offer an independent inquiry into the Model Town incident.

Meanwhile, sources privy to the development said that the PTI chief summoned a meeting of his legal advisers to discuss the strategy shortly after receiving the court’s notice.

According to a party insider with a first-hand account of the meeting Hamid Khan and Ahmad Awais are expected to represent the PTI chief.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2014.



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