ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Wednesday issued notices to PTI Chairman Imran Khan and PAT Chief Tahirul Qadri for holding protest rallies on Constitution Avenue for their demands.
Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, heading a five-member bench, which heard Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) petition, observed that due to the sit-in of PTI and PAT lot of counsels, litigants and the apex court staff were unable to reach the court. "Even the judges faced difficulties and took long route to reach the Supreme Court," he remarked.
Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, member of the bench, stated in the Bench II out of 15 cases 12 were adjourned as the lawyers could not appear before the court because of the protest.
Kamran Murtaza, President SCBA, informed the court that other bars, Lahore High Court Bar Association, Islamabad High Court Bar Association, LHCBA, Multan Bench, Karachi Bar Association, Sindh High Court Bar Association and Peshawar High Court Bar Association have also filed the petitions and wanted to become party in the case.
The SCBA chief requested the court to issue notices to both the parties because they have created impediments on the Constitution Avenue.
Upon that Justice Saqib Nisar asked Kamran Murtaz to read his prayer.
The SCBA chief had filed the petition under Article 184(3), inter alia contended the political standoff or impasse created by a situation (in light of Imran Khan's 'Azadi March' and Tahir ul Qadri's 'Inqlabi March') is adversely affecting all spheres of national life, and "such situation may prompt or embolden some authorities or functionaries to take undue advantage of the situation and to resort to some unconstitutional measures."
Justice Saqib remarked that Article 15 and 16 are about the Fundamental Rights of Freedom of Movement and Freedom of Speech. He questioned from Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Salman Butt whether Article 15 and 16 allow them (PTI and PAT) to stage 'dharna' in the Red Zone.
The AGP contended that the PTI and PAT workers had been holding demonstrations in front of the Parliament House and demanding Prime Minister's resignation and asking for dissolution of National Assembly and all the provincial assemblies.
Justice Jawwad corrected him saying they wanted dissolution of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan Assemblies and not the Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa Provincial Assembly.
The attorney general said in the Benazir Bhutto vs Federation (PLD 1988 SC 416) and the Wali Khan (PLD 1976 SC 56) judgments the important word is 'public order' or morality. He said in these judgments it had been declared that any scheme to overthrow the elected government or disturb the public order is unlawful.
He further said in Indian state of Kerela in 1997 such kind of situation had appeared, but the Indian Supreme Court had given judgment that they would not accept political parties' plea to hold protests that would result in danger to life and property of the people.
Justice Saqib told that right of one is the duty of other, adding they (PTI and PAT) also have right under the Constitution. Justice Jawwad stated that the Balochistan Provincial Assembly has recently passed a resolution in favour of democratic system in Pakistan. "There should be responsible recognition that everyone is patriotic," he added. The honourable judge further said the people of Balochistan are also patriotic and it was the first province where Local Bodies elections were held. "We should recognise the sentiments of each federating unit."
Justice Saqib asked the AGP; "Whether the fundamental rights of anyone could be hindered?" and stated: "We are not going into the political question." Upon that the AGP said in the Memo Commission case the Supreme Court had maintained that it could intervene in fundamental rights cases.
President LHCBA, Multan Bench, Athar Shah, prayed the court to issue notices to all the respondents mentioned in his petition. Athar has made the federation through Secretary Cabinet Division, Secretary Law, Secretary Ministry of Interior, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and PAT Chief Tahirul Qadri as respondents.
He prayed the court to restrain PTI and PAT from demonstrating illegal and unlawful trespassing Red Zone.
The court issuing notices to all the respondents including Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadir adjourned the hearing till today 9:30am.