Lahore - Petition against Chinese citizens purchasing land on lease under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and having access to different economic zones in Pakistan, appointment of Punjab Secretary Law Abul Hassan Najmi and price hike during the upcoming holy month of Ramazan were important cases before various courts last week.

Among the thousands of other cases, anti-judiciary rally and protest allegedly taken out by the parliamentarians of the ruling PML-N in Kasur and petition  seeking ban on hunting of blackbucks were the prominent ones of the gone week.

Watan Party's Barrister Zafarullah Khan approached the Supreme Court challenging certain relaxations given to the Chinese citizens under China Pakistan Economic  Corridor. Barrister Khan said that the government allowed Chinese citizens to acquire property/land on lease,which he says is unlawful. He said leasing out the country’s land to Chinese is equal to leasing them out its sovereignty. He said recreational parks  and residential colonies which have been established for the Chinese also show the Chinese’ permanent occupation.

He submitted that the Chinese citizens under CPEC have been enjoying free access to Pakistan  as compared to the local businessmen who have been facing  strict and prolonged process to have access to China. It had compromised respect and honour of the local citizens, he said, arguing that the Pakistani business community had been striving for level playing field and incentives for the Pakistani businessmen.

He pointed out that Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industries had decided not to allow further special economic zones to Chinese citizens because they believed that it would affect the local industry. He prayed to the court to order the government to review the conditions of the CPEC agreement, bar Chinese from buying land on lease and making direct investment in the country.

The other petition, which was moved by senior lawyer Zafar Iqbal Kalanuri, questioned the appointment of provincial secretary law and parliamentary affairs Syed Abul Hassan Naqvi. The lawyer said that Najmi’s appointment as secretary law was clear violation of Article 25 & 27 of the Constitution and Punjab Civil Servants Act, 1974.

Najmi, he said, was now 75 years old who retired as Punjab Assembly secretary in January 2004. The lawyer said Najmi was re-employed as  secretary law in October  2009 in violation of settled laws. In 2011, his contract was extended for two year and later, the government kept extending his contract even in 2017.

According to the petitioner, a person who had retired as a district and sessions judge could be appointed as secretary of the law and parliamentary affairs regardless of age under the rules of the department.  However, he said, Najmi’ appointment as Secretary was against the rules as he started his career as a civil judge and later joined the assembly cadre. The forth contract extension of a formerly retired official was un-precedent.

The lawyer questioned the appointment notification of the respondent saying that it was illegal and unlawful, a result of arbitrariness, partiality and against  the mandate of law settled down by the Supreme Court. He said how a retired person could be appointed as secretary law. Under Article 240 of the Constitution, the post of secretary law was a permanent post which was to be occupied by a permanent public servant, as same had been envisaged by section 2(1) (f) and (k) of Punjab Civil Servants Act, 1973, the lawyer argues. He prayed to the court to declare Najmi’s appointment as secretary law illegal and unlawful.

The third petition which was moved last week to the Lahore High Court was about the price hike during the upcoming holy month of Ramazan.  Judicial Activism  Panel had moved the petition through Advocate Azhar Siddique and submitted that the prices of the things were increased in every Ramazan. It was the government’s responsibility to control the prices but it did not bother to do so. After hearing arguments of  the petitioner’s counsel, Justice Shahid Karim issued notices to the government and sought reply.

Last week, the LHC also  indicted six accused including two parliamentarians of PML-N over charges of abusing the judges of the superior courts and taking  out a rally against the institution of judiciary in Kasur.

The accused, however, pleaded not guilty. At this, the court gave them seven-day time to submit reply.

A full bench led by Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi was hearing the case moved by Kasur District Bar President against the alleged contemnors belonging  to the ruling PML-N in Kasur.

Nasir Khan, a local leader of Kasur city, the accused, said that they always respected the judiciary on which the bench observed that they belong to the same  society and had not come from any other planet.  Jamil Khan, another accused, said that the offence committed was not intentional and it just happened.

At this, the bench observed that their leader also did the same thing all the day. Three other accused, however, tendered unconditional apology over the charges. On it, the bench remarked that it is the court of law and no decision is given against anyone ; there is just the rule of law.

“We’ re here to protect the national interest and rule of law,” Justice Naqvi, the head of the bench,  further remarked.

The bench gave the accused seven-day time to submit reply and put off further hearing until May 18.

Police produced MNA Waseem Akhtar, MPA Naeem Safdar, municipal chairman Ayaz Khan, vice-chairman Ahmad Latif, Nasir Khan and Jamil Khan before the court.

Kasur police registered a case against over 80 persons out of which six were identified as members of the ruling party PML-N. The police booked them under  Sections 166, 506, 341, 228 109, 147 and 149 of the PPC.

Kasur District Bar Association President Mirza Naseem filed the petition submitting that the protest in Kasur was a planned conspiracy against the institution of judiciary. He alleged that the rally was led by PML-N’s MNA Waseem Sajjad and MPA Safdar Ansari  while some local leaders of the unions also accompanied them.

The bar leader said that by doing so, the protestors committed contempt of court and therefore they must be punished. He prayed to the court to declare the  parliamentarian disqualified and proceed against them in accordance with the law.

The same bench had been hearing the petitions against alleged anti-judiciary speeches of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and  other leaders of the PML-N.

The bench was also seized with the hearing of petitions against MQM London Chief for his anti-state speeches.

In another similar case of anti-judiciary material on social media, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) submitted a detailed report before the full  bench.  The court sought suggestions as to how anti-judiciary material could be stopped from being viral on the social media and adjourned the hearing till May 18. In a separate case, the LHC directed Punjab government to enforce ban on hunting and killing of endangered species of blackbuck throughout province in letter  and spirit.  Chief Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali was hearing the case. The CJ also sought record of past five years regarding action taken against violators and FIR registered which led to conviction of the culprits involved in killing and hunting of protected species. The Chief Justice also summoned Director general Punjab forest wildlife with directives to him to produce the data regarding steps taken to protect the endangered  specie of blackbucks.