LAHORE - The Lahore High Court on Tuesday ordered the Punjab government to produce a copy of notification regarding ban of protest on The Mall.

Justice Muzammal Akhtar Shabir of the LHC passed the order on petition filed by Ali Jawad challenging protests on The Mall. The judge also directed the law officer to obtain instruction from the Punjab Home department whether protests on The Mall were banned.

Advocate Sheraz Zaka, the petitioner’s counsel, stated that gatherings at public places and roads were vulnerable targets of terrorists. He said on Feb 13, a suicide attack took lives of 14 people at Charring Cross, in front of Punjab Assembly when pharmacists were holding protests. He stated that protest for any genuine demand was the right of the citizens but their gatherings at public sites had increased chances of terrorists’ attacks.

These protests not only created problems for smooth traffic flow but also affected business of people, the petitioner said.  He said that SC judgments had clearly said that when two fundamental rights conflict then rights of community should have precedence over the rights of few individuals. He said that the rights of citizens were at stake, so at present protest by few individuals should be banned as it increased the probability of terrorist.

PETITION AGAINST PTRIA

The LHC sought more arguments on a petition challenging the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act (PTRIA).  Justice Atir Mehmood of the LHC took up the petition filed by Advocate Azhar Siddique. The lawyer-petitioner said that access to information was constitutional and basic right of every citizen. He said that the PTRIA itself had become hurdle in the way of information, which was against the Constitution.

He stated that under the impugned act, the responsible government officer for not providing information had to pay a fine of Rs 50,000 or his salary of two months could be confiscated. He said that this punishment was not sufficient therefore this act could not be implemented in letter and spirit. ] He further said that despite lapse of eight months, he was not given information about Orange Line Project, its contracts, and loans taken from China, which was violation of article 19 of the Constitution.  He prayed the court to declare the PTRIA as unconstitutional and illegal and instructions be issued to the government to make an effective law for provision of the information. He also requested the court to pass directions for provision of information about Orange Line Project.