LAHORE - The Lahore High Court dismissed three important petitions during the last week. The first one was against the construction plan of Baab-i-Pakistan in Walton, the second was against the Pakistan Awami-Tehreek (PAT)’s proposed sit-in on The Mall while the third was against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar working as prime minister.

The first petition was filed by opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmood-ur Rasheed, the second was filed by Advocate Shoaib Saleem while the third petition was moved by Pakistan Awami Tehreek.

In the prevailing situation these petitions were not only legally important but also had their political significance. The court dismissed all three petitions on the question of maintainability.

In lawyer’s petition against PAT’s proposed protest, the court held that it was the duty of the local government whether to allow anyone to hold protest or not as Section 144 CrPC was already there.

In Rasheed’s petition, the court held that he should take up this issue on the floor of the Punjab Assembly. On the petition against Senator Dar, the court held that it cannot order parliament to appoint any other leader of the house in the absence of the the PM.  The PAT challenged the decision of the single bench.

While challenging the verdict the petition submitted that three reasons were given by the court in dismissal of its petition: that the PM was only temporarily-ill, not permanently, second, that the PM discharges his duties through his cabinet and the cabinet is there while the third reason is that the court cannot direct parliament to elect a new leader of the house.

The party said the basic question it should take up was under which law the cabinet was working in the absence of the PM. This question was not addressed by the court in its verdict. It prayed that the single-bench order be set aside.

The ICA is expected to be taken up during this week.

The other important decision announced by the LHC during the outgoing week was about the private schools collecting in one go fee of three months summer vacations from their students.

Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi restrained the private schools from charging three months’ fee from the students at once and directed the Punjab government to ensure implementation of the court’s order. The judge also directed the education department to take strict action against the private schools for violating the direction and create awareness among the parents about its notification. The judge said the department should use media to properly publicize its actions.

During the week, the LHC also summoned senior officer of the finance department to assist the court about the foreign visits of the Prime Minister and personal media promotion at public expense and deferred hearing until June 13. The judge has already ordered for submission of details of foreign visits of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and expenditures incurred thereon.

Petitioner Barrister Sayyed Javed Iqbal Jafree submitted that there were no medicines available at public hospitals for the common man, the county was sinking in foreign debts but the PM got his medical treatment abroad on public money. He said unfortunately PM head of the government could not establish such hospital where he could go for his own medical treatment.

He stated that on PM treatment abroad the public money was spent. He stated that taxpayers’ money had been constantly used by the PM and his family on lavish foreign tours.  He also requested that the government should be restraint from media advertisements for the promotion of the prime minister and his party.

The LHC also disposed of a petition challenging awarding contract for `Refurbishment of Mangla Dam’ awarded allegedly to a blacklisted French company M/s Alstom Hydro in violation of rules. The court disposed of this petition after the government counsel gave assurance that this contract would not be given to any blacklisted company.

A local resident Ali Javed Dogar had moved the petition.

The petitioner’s counsel  submitted that awarding of the contract to French company was illegal in terms of clause 59/1 of the contract. He said that m/s Alstom Hydro was a subsidiary of a blacklisted French company Alstom SA, which had been recently indicted by a US Court for 770million dollar fine. He said that in light of superior court's judgment a contract, worth Rs 10 billion, involving public money could not be given to a company whose parent company was debarred or blacklisted. He requested the court to summon details of the contract and restrain the respondent authorities from awarding the contract to a company, which was a subsidiary of a blacklisted company.

Appointment of retired bureaucrat Kamran Lashari as director general of Lahore Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) was also challenged before the Lahore High Court. The court sought reply and adjourned hearing until June 15. 

During the week, the LHC also reserved judgment on maintainability of the petition seeking action against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan for making  allegedly hateful speeches against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.