ISLAMABAD  -   The worries of Sharif family, surrounded by several corruption cases, are likely to increase as the Punjab government has decided to reinvestigate the Model Town case in which lives of 14 persons including a woman were lost.

The Punjab government on Wednesday assured the Supreme Court that it will reinvestigate the Model Town case under Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) through an independent Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

On Punjab government’s assurance of fresh probe, the top court disposed of the matter. The ball is now in the court of the PTI-led provincial government.

“During the course of hearing, Advocate General Punjab Ahmed Awais in unequivocal and unambiguous manner assured the court that the provincial government had decided to constitute a JIT in terms of Section 19 of the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA),” stated the order dictated by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

“In the light of the above, the petition has achieved the objective and therefore the petition is disposed of accordingly,” the top court ruled in its order.

Model Town case pertains to the incident wherein top tier of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, former CM Punjab Shehbaz Sharif, Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz and former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah are the prime accused. The complainant in the case is Jawad Hassan.

On June 17, 2014, 10 activists of Minhaj-ul-Quran, an educational and social wing of Pakistan Awami Tehreek, including women lost their lives with dozens of supporters injured after Punjab police launched an operation in the name of removing pickets and barriers installed outside the residence of Dr Tahirul Qadri in the Model Town , Lahore. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was heading a 5-judge larger bench which heard the application of Bisma Amjad, the daughter of a martyred woman Tanzeela who received bullets on her chest.

During the course of hearing, PAT’s chief and religious scholar Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri argued the case in jam-packed court room and narrated background of the case and the ‘tough phase’ his party suffered due to technicalities in litigations and alleged manipulation in prosecution by the former Punjab government. The larger bench heard Qadri briefly and agreed that statements of injured persons were not recorded.

However, during the hearing, the chief justice recalled the sit-in staged by PAT on Constitution Avenue and told Qadri that his supporters had paralysed the area and even judges of the Supreme Court were barred from entering the court freely.

He further remarked that workers and supporters of the PAT had also not shown respect to Supreme Court and closed the roads as well as hanged their clothes on the walls of the SC.

Responding to this, Qadri said that any such act was hundred times condemnable.

“At that time you (Qadri) approached ‘those’ who had nothing to do with the incident by ignoring the fact that judiciary was the most powerful institution of the state,” the CJ told Qadri, regretting that he did not approach the top court at that time for addressing his grievance.

During the course of hearing, Qadri told the bench that both JITs, which were formed following police FIR and private complaint, had not recorded the statements of legal heirs of martyred persons, injured and those accused of hatching the conspiracy.

He further informed the bench that instead of redressing grievance, Punjab police lodged 56 different FIRs nominating thousands of supporters and workers of the PAT.

“As a result, the workers had to flee from their homes to avoid arrests and therefore it was very difficult for them to join the investigations by JIT,” contended Qadri.

He said that the Lahore High Court had ordered for installing barriers and pickets outside his house due to life threats to him after he issued edict (fatwa) against terrorism, adding that he had no animosity with the police and they who used to guard the pickets outside his residence opened straight fire to his house.

They even fired bullets at the corner of my house where people used to sit and recite religious verses, he added.

He alleged that police raided to remove the pickets only to camouflage and disrupt a peaceful protest demanding legal reforms in the election laws, adding that later through the police complaints those who were injured were made accused in the case. He said that he was in no doubt that an impartial inquiry could be conducted due to change in government.

The chief justice also observed that powers of the government were not notional but this court had to see whether the courts were so powerless to appoint any investigative agencies in case the state itself was facing allegations.

Can the court not appoint a different investigative agency?, the chief justice asked the view of provincial government when Advocate Azam Nazeer Tarrar and Zulfiqar Abbas Bokhari objected to the bench’s willingness to appoint the fresh investigations.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, member of the bench, also recalled that the SC had already issued similar orders in some cases.

Advocate Shabbar Raza Rizvi, who appeared on behalf of former Inspector General of Police Punjab Mushtaq Sukhaira, pleaded before the bench that if the top court chooses to appoint JIT for the third time, then it should also order to quash the earlier proceedings pending before the trial court in which much progress had been made in the private complaint.

After the hearing, Zulfikar Abbas Bokhari, who represented police officers allegedly involved in the case, told reporters that they would challenge the decision in the LHC whenever the government appointed the JIT.

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN