LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday issued arrest warrants for Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed after he failed to appear in the court in a contempt case.

Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti passed the orders while hearing a petition filed by Taj Din, seeking contempt proceedings against Toba Tek Singh district administration officials over their failure to comply with the court orders.

The court had summoned the chief secretary in person on Tuesday after the respondents failed to satisfy it regarding the progress on petitioner's grievances.

As the proceedings started, a law officer informed the court that she was told by her office that the chief secretary would not be able to attend the proceedings and no reason had been given. On this, the court took notice of chief secretary's absence and observed that the case was fixed for Tuesday in view of his convenience and the same was communicated through a law officer and the court office.

The court, terming the chief secretary’s absence wilful, held that it amounted to undermining the authority of the court and showing disrespect to the order for which contempt proceedings should have been initiated.

But, for the time being, confining to the extent of procuring chief secretary’s attendance, let his bailable warrants be issued, reserving the right for taking action for wilful disregard and disobedience to the court order, the court ordered. The court will take up the matter on Oct 11.

The petitioner had filed the present contempt petition in 2011, submitting that he was tenant of a commercial plot measuring 7-marla in Toba Tek Singh District Council for 35 years and had constructed two shops on it. But, the administration razed the shops and retrieved the land, despite the LHC restraining orders in 1987, he added.

The petitioner submitted that he approached the LHC through a contempt petition, and the respondents assured the court in 1995 that he would be accommodated. But later, the respondents did not consider the request of the petitioner, he added.

The petitioner submitted that he again filed a contempt petition in 1997 wherein the respondents said that name of the petitioner had been included in the list of affected people and needful would be done. But no action was taken despite his request in this regard, he added.