LAHORE - The Pakistan Awami Tehrik of Dr Tahirul Qadri has insistently been holding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah responsible for the 14 deaths caused by police firing at the party secretariat more than two years ago. It has also been demanding that the accused should be tried without any delay. But so far its efforts have borne no fruit. 

An anti-terrorism court was also moved for the purpose.  But it has rejected the PAT plea to try them. However, some other people, including the incumbent IGP Mushtaq Sukhera, will have to face the case.

The ATC will resume proceedings on Feb 17.

Partially allowing a private complaint of the PAT/Idara Minhajul Quran, Presiding Judge Ch Muhammad Azam observed last week that the court could not try anyone in private complaint unless cogent evidence was provided. The long-awaited decision took almost 10 months which is merely about the maintainability of the victim’s complaint. It clearly reflects that the real decision on the incident in which the responsibility will finally be fixed is not visible in near future.

Apparently, PAT is pursuing the case aggressively but its recent petition in the LHC seeking suspension of the top police officials instead of challenging the ATC’s decision which excluded 12 personalities seems nothing but a last ditch effort.  PAT argues that the police officers summoned by the trial court may influence the process of law if they are not suspended from their offices. It prays to the court to suspend the IGP and others and also direct the government to initiate departmental proceedings against them in light of the ATC decision.

It has yet to be questioned what was the cogent evidence on the basis of which 12 personalities including PM Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif were excluded while trial of police officials was allowed. PAT claims that it is partly contented with the decision and will soon challenge that part of the decision which refused the trial of those it had alleged were the masterminds. This direction of the case seems unclear. What will be the legal status of partially challenged decision and whether the ATC will continue its proceedings on it or not and so on?

In this whole case, Gullu Butt, the infamous character of the incident, remained lucky who has gotten relief in his sentence. A LHC division bench quashed his sentence awarded under anti terrorism law while upholding his conviction under provisions of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Now he would be out any time since the high court set aside the five-year term awarded under the section 7 ATA while he has completed his maximum imprisonment of two years under the PPC.

Gullu Butt was accused of smashing private vehicles with a club outside Minhajul Quran Secretariat in Model Town. On June 17, 2014 the city police were engaged with aggressive supporters of Dr Tahirul Qadri when Butt appeared on the scene with a long club in his hand and started shattering private vehicles. The act of vandalism was filmed by cameramen of almost all news channels who were already present on the spot to cover a clash between the police and the workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek following an ‘anti encroachment’ operation outside the residence of Dr Qadri.

Police personnel had not stopped Butt from carrying out his smashing spree rather they were witnessed facilitating him.

The week brought good news for the students of Bahauddin Zakarya University’s Lahore campus. The LHC directed the BZU to issue, as an interim measure, degrees to students who passed their examinations at Lahore sub-campus. The court expressed dismay over the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for preparing a weak reference on illegality committed in establishment of a sub-campus of Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan.

NAB Chairman Qamaruz Zaman, its Prosecutor General Waqar Qadeer Dar, Advocate General Punjab Shakilur Rehman Khan and Provincial Minister Zaeem Hussain Qadri were present in the court to attend hearing of a set of petitions against illegal establishment of BZU’s Lahore sub-campus and non-registration of the students.

Responding to a court’s query, the PG said eleven suspects involved in the scam were not arrested following a stay order issued by a single bench of the high court.

However, he failed to satisfy the bench as to whether the stay order was not challenged by the NAB.

The bench also took strong notice of complaints of students against BZU management and directed the authorities concerned to ensure enrollment of the students without fail by next hearing. The university’s registrar would be changed if the grievances of the students were not addresses, Justice Naqvi said.

The judge directed the advocate general to ensure compliance of the order and remove reservations of the students. The bench would resume hearing on Feb 13.

In addition to it, a rare kind of petition moved by two civil judges was admitted by LHC to regular hearing.

The registrar of the LHC had put objection on the petitions of being non maintainable before the LHC. However, the LHC taking up the petitions as objection cases on Thursdayremoved the objection and sent it to the chief justice of the LHC for fixing them before some appropriate bench.

Petitioners Shehzad Aslam and Shanawaz Khichi had filed these petitions. Appearing on behalf of Aslam, Advocate Tipu Salman Makhdoom to support his petition said that in 2016 Supreme Court over-ruling judgments of the High Courts barring writ petitions against judge’s orders, held in a case reported as PLD 2016 SC 961 titled “Ch. Muhammed Akram Vs. Registrar Islamabad High Court Etc” that an administrative order of a High Court judge or judges can be challenged through a writ. This latest judgment of Supreme Court is the same judgment after which the then Mr. Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman resigned as judge of Supreme Court of Pakistan on appointments made in Islamabad High Court during his tenure as chief justice of IHC, he said.

In his petition he said that his client was functioning as civil judge 1st class at Lahore and was suddenly made OSD on June 28, 2016, the day when incumbent chief justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah took oath as CJ.

He submitted that there never had been any complaint against him and all of his Performance Evaluation Reports (PERs) of his 14 years service period are excellent. In only two PERs, for the period from March 15, 2011 to September 12, 2011 and September 13, 2011 to December 31, 2011, there were adverse remarks, which were expunged by Expunge Committee.

In another case, the LHC directed Punjab Wildlife Department and federal government to produce record under what criteria they have removed the houbara bustard from the list of protected animal.

Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah took up the matter and directed the government of Punjab to explain how much hunting of houbara bustard had contributed towards economic development in those areas where hunting took place in Bhakkar and Jhang. The court adjourned the hearing for March 3.