LAHORE - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Saturday ordered day-to-day hearing of a private complaint filed by Minhajul Quran/Pakistan Awami Tehreek against the Model Town killings case pending adjudication before an anti-terrorism court.

A two-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, directed the presiding officer of the anti-terrorism court, Ijaz Awan, to hold proceedings on each day of the week except his official weekly holiday (Sunday).

The chief justice also directed the authorities concerned to transfer all other cases pending before the judge to some other court or to establish a new court for their disposal. He also directed the Punjab advocate general to submit Justice Ali Baqar Najafi’s judicial report which he submitted before the court after the conclusion of the proceedings.

Earlier, the bench was briefed by Punjab Prosecutor General Ehtesham Qadir Shah on the proceedings of the Model Town killings trial before the Lahore High Court and the anti-terrorism court.

Counsel for PAT, Rai Bashir advocate, said the case was pending and no development had so for been made in this regard. The prosecutor general said the PAT counsel often remained absent from the proceedings of the case before the Lahore High Court. The CJP directed the high court to decide all appeals pending before it within 15 days and disposed of the suo motu notice.

On last Sunday, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of delay in dispensation of justice to the victims of the Model Town incident and summoned record of the case from the trial court when a group of protesters seeking justice in the case met him.

At least 14 people were killed and 85 others injured during a clash between police and PAT workers over the issue of barriers put on the roads outside Minhajul Quran Secretariat. A judicial inquiry was held on the issue and the report released by the provincial government last year.

An anti-terrorism court last week framed charges against 116 police officials on a private complaint filed by Pakistan Awami Tehreek.

The trial court last year partially admitted the complaint against 128 respondents, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, MNA Hamza Shehbaz, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, former information minister Pervez Rashid, State Minister Abid Sher Ali, former interior minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan, the then personal secretary to chief minister, Syed Tauqir Shah, Home Secretary Azam Suleman and the then Lahore commissioner Rashid Mahmood Langrial. Later, the respondents named above were excluded.

A number of petitions and appeals are also pending before the Lahore High Court on the issue.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar Saturday said the judges of the Supreme Court were non-partisans and had no prejudice against any anyone; rather they were trying to establish the rule of law.

The top judge also observed the court would go for an independent forensic audit of the railways and would decide next week as to which company should be engaged for this task. He was heading a two-member bench for the hearing of several suo motu notices at the Supreme Court Lahore Registry.

As the CJP resumed the hearing, he asked Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq to come to the rostrum along with his ‘Lohay kay Chanay’ (hard nuts to crack), obviously alluding to the judiciary.

“Come to the rostrum along with your Lohay kay Chanay,” the CJP asked Khawaja Saad Rafiq who promptly said: “This statement is not for your lordship; it was for my political rivals.” The CJP said: “We summon record of all your speeches and the record of railways’ loss.”

Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq had many times mentioned ‘Lohay kay Chanay’ in his speeches. “Ham Lohay kay Chanay hein (We are hard nuts to crack).

The CJP asked Rafiq to tell the court how much the railways’ loss was. He replied: “You were missing me.” The CJP remarked: “No, it isn’t that. You have been summoned here; gone is the time when the courts were not respected.”

“The judges have no prejudice against anyone,” the CJP remarked, adding it was first time that the rule of law was being established and the ‘others’ were in trouble. Khawaja Saad Rafiq, however, replied he had no problem and asked the chief justice of Pakistan to visit Railway Headquarters to examine the steps taken during his tenure as the minister. He further said: “I’m sure our efforts will be appreciated.”

The CJP said he (Saad Rafiq) should not have visited the place where he had gone a few days ago. The minister said he had gone there to have just a cup of tea as he was a social man. The CJP snubbed the minister for showing relaxed posture while standing on the rostrum. He directed the court staff to run his speech on the electronic projector, but deferred the same by reminding the minister not to even think of disgracing the state institutions. The minister said he was jailed for the restoration of judiciary and had deep regard for the state institutions. The CJP warned Rafiq: “Be careful, you can go to jail once again.”

Submitting a report about the performance of his department, the minister said Railways was earning Rs 18 billion annually with a loss of over Rs 30 billion when he assumed the office as the minister some five years ago. “Now Pakistan Railways has been earning Rs 50 billion and the losses are around Rs 35 billion,” the minister said. He said he saved the railways from privatization, violating his own party’s policy.

However, he said it was not all well, but now the inadequacies were minimal. He said the railways needed more 12 years to overcome all the losses. The CJP, on a lighter note, remarked whether he should be allowed to serve as the minster for the next 12 years.

The minister said he was a son of the late eminent activist of Pakistan Movement on which the CJP said: “The sons are not like his father.” Punjab Health Minister Khawaja Salman Rafiq, his younger brother, was also present in the courtroom.

During the proceedings, Railways Secretary Parveen Agha submitted reports of statistics of annual revenue and losses from 2012 to 2018. She termed the payment of pensions and historical luggage major reasons for the railway losses. “Rs 30.2 billion are being paid to the railways’ retired employees as pensions annually,” the secretary said.

The CJP rejected the arguments and observed the railways should have generated revenue to meet the expenses of pensions. “For how long will you run the railways on bailout packages?” the CJP asked the secretary. Justice Ijazul Ahsan, the other member of the bench, also asked the officer to look at the Indian Railways’ progress. “Do you know the model of the neighboring country’s railways?” Justice Ahsan asked the officer.

The secretary pointed out the railways had been paying Rs 30.2 billion annually to its retired employees under the head of pensions. The officer said around Rs 12 billion losses were settled before the Public Accounts Committee and contested the observations made by the auditor general in his report.

The chief justice of Pakistan observed they could not tolerate the loss of the national asset and would go for an independent audit of the railways. The bench directed the minister and the secretary to submit their written reply in the court about railways’ losses till next week.