LAHORE - A petition moved by Inspector General Police, Punjab, Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera on which a full bench of the Lahore High Court suspended operation on summons issued to him by an anti-terrorism court in Model Town killings’ case remained as the most important matter during the last week.

The IGP was also present there in the courtroom in plain clothes when his counsel was arguing on the matter before a three-judge bench headed by Justice Yawar Ali Khan in the said matter. The counsel of IGP said that on private complaint of PAT, the ATC had issued summons to the IGO for March 11. He said these summons were issued on baseless information provided to the court as he was not on this seat when the incident happened. He said Sukhera has nothing to do with that incident while PAT’s private complaint was filed after 21 months of that incident which seems baseless. He prayed the court to declare these notices as illegal and unconstitutional.

After hearing the arguments of the IGP’s counsel, “the full bench” suspended operation on summons issued to him by ATC in Model Town killings’ case. “The full bench” issued notice to Jawad Hamid, administrator of PAT who had filed the private complaint before the ATC for March 17.

The ATC judge had directed the accused officials including IGP to appear in person and deposit surety bonds of Rs500,000 each.

On March 3, 2016 Pakistan Awami Tehreek and Minhajul Quran had filed a private complaint in the court seeking  trial of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, federal ministers Saad Rafique and Khawaja Asif and others accusing them of the ‘murder’ of innocent PAT workers in June 2014. The court, however, dismissed PAT’s plea seeking trial of the premier, chief minister, provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah and eight other MNAs. The court has partially accepted PAT’s plea and summoned IG Punjab and others.

The important point in the said case is that “a full bench” passed the orders in which operation on summons issued to IGP by ATC was suspended. And it was ‘full bench’ that issued notices to Jawad Hamid, the complainant, for March 17. A special division bench headed by Justice Kazim Raza Shamsi and Justice Chaudhary Mushtaq Ahmad has been hearing matters related to anti-terrorism courts. Before it, the special division benches headed by Justice Abdul Sami and Justice Tariq Abbasi used to take up cases of ATCs. However, a full bench which was constituted last week took up ‘the petition of IGP’.

The counsel of PAT and also its deputy secretary general Advocate Ishtiaq Ahmad says that the LHC constitutes benches but he does not know the significance of constituting ‘a full bench’ when a special division bench is already there. He says he will consult his leadership about his future course of action on the matter.

Besides this, the LHC took up many important cases during the last week including a petition against acquittal of Sharif family in references against them before a NAB court, the matter of Pakhtun family which was refused identity by Nadra despite the fact that it has been living in Pakistan since 1947 and a petition that questioned the permission of men from their wives for second marriage.

In petition against acquittal of Sharif family in NAB references, the court directed the petitioner to produce copies of the decisions of NAB court on the next hearing. The LHC CJ passed the orders while hearing the petition as ‘objection case’ since the registrar office had put an objection on the maintainability of the petition. Mahmood Akhtar, the petitioner, submitted that accountability courts acquitted PM Nawaz Sharif and his family members in NAB references, however, the bureau had not challenged their acquittal. He stated that the NAB chairman was under obligation to file appeals against the court’s decisions but he did not do so with mala fide intention. He alleged that the Sharif family was also a defaulter of NBP loans. The chief justice adjourned hearing till March 27 .

While on petition of Pakhtun family, the LHC sought replies from ministry of interior and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) about cancellation of national identity card of a Pakhtoon man and Form-B his two minor daughters. Somia, 9, and Afia 4, filed a writ petition through their father Wali Muhammad Khan, a resident of Qila Muhammadi, Lahore, challenging an order of Nadra issued on Feb 2, 2017. Representing the petitioners, Advocate Shoaib Saleem argued before the court that the petitioner-family had been living in Pakistan even before the 1947 partition. He said many elders of the family were pensioners while others were tax payer citizens.

The lawyer argued that the Nadra cancelled the national identity’s documents of Khan and his two daughters by declaring them non-resident. However, he said, the authority amasingly did not issue any such order regarding three other minor children of Khan. The counsel prayed to the court to set aside the impugned order of Nadra for being illegal and violative of fundamental rights. Justice Shahid Hameed Dar admitted the petition for regular hearing and sought replies from the respondents by April 4.

And on the petition that challenged the requirement for the husbands to seek permission from their wives before contracting second marriage, the LHC sought replies from federal law minister and provincial government. Akhtar Hasnain challenged the provision through the writ petition calling it against the teachings of Quran and Sunnah. During the hearing, Advocate Safdar Shaheeh Pirzada argued that the section 6(1) of the ordinance was in sheer contravention or direct conflict with Quran, which is the supreme law for Muslims. Section 6(1) of Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 reads as “S.6. Polygamy (1) No man, during the subsistence of an existing marriage, shall, except with the previous permission in writing of the Arbitration Council, contract another marriage, nor shall any such marriage contracted without such permission be registered under this Ordinance.”

In addition to this, the LHC commuted sentence of a Manawan Police Training School attack’s suspect Hijratullah and issued his release order.

A division bench headed by Justice Kazim Raza Shamsi issued this order allowing an appeal of the suspect against the conviction by an anti-terrorism court under section 5 of Explosives Act 1884. Representing the appeal, Advocate Ali Zia Bajwa argued that the anti-terrorism court held trial of Hijratullah without lawful jurisdiction. He said the appellant was arrested in 2009 and convicted the same year. He argued that the trial court was not empowered to hear cases of Explosives Act till the law was amended in 2012.

During the week, a family court decided a dissolution of marriage suit filed by actress Veena Malik seeking divorce from her husband Asad Khathak.

The court has issued a decree in favour of actress on a khula suit (dissolution of marriage) filed by her. The actress in her suit contended that behavior of her husband Asad Khattak changed after marriage and quarrels on domestic issues was a routine matter. She implored the court to dissolve her marriage.

 

FIDA HUSSNAIN