ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Wednesday directed Sheikh Rasheed to talk to the leadership of Pakistan Awami Tehreek and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf to get the premises of Parliament House vacated.
Later, PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri in the presence of Awami Muslim League (AML) president, asked his workers to vacate the Parliament lawn.
The court asked attorney general to submit the detailed report based on data from ministries of commerce and finance about financial loss incurred since the beginning of the protests, detailing the amount government spent to control the law and order situation, damages to the state property and buildings, damage to vehicles. It also asked to tell the number of people who got injured and killed in the recent clashes, both of civilian and government officials including policemen.
Advocate Iftikhar Gilani represented Qaumi Wattan Party, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and Fata MNAs. Aitzaz Ahsan appeared on behalf of Jamat-i-Islami and Pakistan Peoples Party, while Raza Rabbani represented BNP and ANP. No one appeared on behalf of PML-N, PML-F, PML-Z, National Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), JUI-S and JUI-F.
AML President Sheikh Rashid appearing in person said, “I am also part of the sit-ins and they have been protesting against the rigging in the 2013 general elections.” He said it was wrong that they have occupied the Parliament and asked the court not to be involved in the political issue.
A five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk has been hearing the case since August 15 and except restraining the state functionaries from taking unconstitutional steps, it has passed no order against the protesters. In 10 hearings of the case several times remarks were passed about fundamental rights and duty, but no order was passed to vacate the Red Zone.
A senior lawyer, on the condition of anonymity, shared with The Nation that the court seemed to be interested more in addressing academic questions like scope of the fundamental rights and the articles of constitution related to freedom of speech, assembly and association, and less to resolve the current impasse.
Aitzaz Ahsan, attorney general and bars associations’ counsels many times had requested the court to order for clearance of the Red Zone. During the proceeding, Aitzaz and other lawyers again requested the court to pass order to get the parliament premises vacated.
The PPP senator said there were two questions before the court; one is of immediate nature and the other is philosophical that how the ‘dharna’ (sit-in) should be regulated as some say that SC should not involve itself in the present deadlock. “Kindly order that the premises of the Parliament are vacated,” he requested the court.
The chief justice stated the national assembly speaker, who is custodian of the house should order the protesters to vacate the parliament lawn.
Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa said the PTI, which obtained the second most votes in the 2013 elections, demand of constituting judicial commission to investigate the rigging but there is no answer to this demand in the constitution and for that the parliament has to do the legislation. “Unless we discuss this issue that crop up after every election, the issue will not be resolved.” He asked the lawyers to give suggestion how this issue be tackled, saying under Article 187 the court could pass an order in lieu of political justice.
Raza Rabbani said due to the demand of the PTI to dissolve assemblies the federal character of the constitution, mentioned in articles 1 and 2A, is under threat and there was a danger to federation of Pakistan. He said after 18th Amendment the process of dissolving national and provincial assemblies is separate. The PM advises the president for dissolution of national assembly, while provincial assemblies are dissolved on the advice of chief minister of the respective province.
The court observed that the PTI and PAT have given written commitment but didn’t fulfil it and staged sit-in in the Red Zone. The court observed that Pakistan Secretariat, Federal Shariat Court and Election Commission of Pakistan offices are virtually closed. Justice Saqib Nisar inquired from Sheikh Rasheed, “Do you have right to affect the rights of others, as 85 cases in the apex court had been adjourned due to sit-ins.”
When the chief justice said to the AML president that no permission was granted to both the parties to hold protests in the Red Zone, but they entered into it. Sheikh Rasheed said: “We don’t need permission.” Upon that the CJP told him to read the No Objection Certificate (NOC) signed by the PTI and PAT leaders.
Sheikh requested the court to order the government to remove containers. Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said the containers were for the security reasons. Aitzaz Ahsan said despite containers 2,000 to 4,000 people come to the dharna and after hearing speeches of Imran Khan and Dr Qadri go back to their homes. Iftikhar Gilani informed that the protesters misbehaved with the lawyers and checked their cards. The court directing all the parties to file reply adjourned the case until September 5.