ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Thursday on the request of PPP central leaders exercised restraint to pass an order to end Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek sit-ins, in front of the Parliament House.

Aitzaz Ahsan, representing PPP and JI, suggested the court not to pass an order as it is being said “dharna people (protesters) winding up after Eid”. He said a judicial order would let them (Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan) off the hook of their commitments, they make in sit-ins.  “Every day in their speeches both the leaders say they would continue dharna till the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation, which is highly unlikely.”

A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, was hearing 10 identical petitions of various bar associations against the PTI and PAT demonstrations. Aitzaz said: “We assiduously in favour of right to peaceful protest.” Therefore, he further proposed to the court to refrain from prescribing the limits to fundamental rights, mentioned in Articles 14, 15 and 16 of Constitution.

Senator Raza Rabbani supported the arguments of Aitzaz and said: “Use of force will trigger something else.” Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali said so far the court had exercised judicial restraint and questioned how long the stakeholders would wait. The chief justice asked the PPP leaders whether they are saying the judicial restraint should be temporary or permanent for passing order on freedom of movement, speech and assembly.

Aitzaz pleaded the words in Articles 15 and 16 are ‘subject to any reasonable restriction’, therefore, it should be left to the Parliament to decide about it. The bench decided to take up the federation’s application regarding PTI and PAT attack on Parliament House and PTV center after Eid.

Attorney General Salman Butt, on behalf of the federation, had filed an application last week highlighting certain facts about the attack on Parliament House and PTV by the protesters but Sessions Judge on the application of PTI leader had passed an order to register FIR against PM, federal ministers and police officers.

The AGP argued that the morale of police has been lowered down, while the government is totally paralyzed. He said: “We (govt) can’t perform its constitutional responsibilities.” He requested the court to pass an appropriate order in this regard as it was hampering the government to perform executive functions.

The office is directed to arrange the multi-media on next hearing so that video of the attack could be played in the courtroom. Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and Awami Muslim League have been ordered to file the reply on the three questions, which Senator Raza Rabbani has put to court in LHCBA petition. All the respondents have filed statements on questions except PML-Q and AML.

During the proceedings, Justice Saqib Nisar specifically inquired from the PTI counsel Ali Zafar and PAT lawyer Ahmed Awais how they would balance between the fundamental rights of the protesters and those employees whose offices are on Red Zone, and litigants and lawyers who have come to the apex court regarding their cases, but are stopped from using the Constitution Avenue. Iftikhar Gilani, counsel for FATA parliamentarians, said: “Our dignity is violated day in and day out.

The attorney general informed that the people in the surrounding areas of dharna place could not sleep due to music and speeches played on the loud speakers. The PTI and PAT organizers were violating the Loud Speaker Act, he said. The PTI and PAT counsels’ stance was as the fundamental rights of large population are violated, therefore, it is no problem if a few citizens’ rights are breached.

PTI counsel Yousafzai informed the court that the PTI workers were no more on the Constitution Avenue. However, Justice Saqib said they could not say this because both the parties in partnership are holding dharna in front of the Parliament.

He warned that they would not allow anyone to use Supreme Court as laundry to clean or wash the political dirt. The judge asked the PTI and PAT lawyers that so far the court had humbly asked them to balance out the rights. He said both the PTI and PAT leaders have given undertakings before the apex court that they would not infringe the constitution and the law, adding violating the undertaking could lead to legal consequences against them. Ali Zafar argued that their revolution is not against the system, but with the Constitution. The chief justice asked him to define the revolution.

Upon that the lawyer said they are saying end the exploitation of poor masses and corruption in the country.

The CJP said these were the demands and not revolution and questions whether the protesters were entitled to break the law.

Awais Ahmed sought time to argue on question of proportionality. Sheikh Ahsanud Din pleaded that the whole nation was looking toward Supreme Court to resolve the PTI and PAT sit-ins.

The case was later adjourned till 13th October.