LHC seeks Model Town report
LAHORE – The Lahore High Court has sought a copy of Justice Najfi’s report on Model Town massacre in 2014 for its perusal.
A full bench, headed by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh, Monday resumed the hearing of Punjab government’s appeal against the single bench order to release the inquiry report.
Fourteen people were killed and another 85 sustained injuries in a clash between police and Pakistan Awami Tehrik workers over the issue of barriers outside Minhajul Quran Secretariat in June 2014. PAT leadership has been blaming the killings on the Punjab government. A couple of months ago, an LHC single bench ordered the government to make public the Model Town report. But the government appealed against the decision. As the proceedings started yesterday, Punjab government’s lawyer Khwaja Haris argued that inquiry report was a useless document. Haris told the court two FIRs were registered on the complaint of Punjab police and Pakistan Awami Tehreek on which the court had been holding trial. Haris said the release might affect the trials.
He said that single bench’s decision regarding release of Model Town inquiry report should be set aside. The bench directed Khwaja Haris to continue his arguments and ordered him to present a copy of the report to the court for in-camera examination. The court would resume hearing on Thursday. On the last hearing, the government’s lawyers hinted that the report could be presented to the judges, if they want, for content examination.
In its appeal, Punjab government said that the single bench’s decision lacked many legal and technical aspects as the same matter was lying pending before a full bench. But, according to the government, the bench decided the petitioners’ plea for the publication of report.
The government lawyers argued that why the single bench did not send the matter to the full bench, thus, the decision was beyond its jurisdiction. They had prayed the court to set aside the decision.
On September 21, the court of Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi ordered provincial authorities to release Justice Ali Baqar Najafi’s report for public review. He directed the Punjab secretary to take action after hearing a petition filed by the families of victims of the 2014 tragedy.
Qaiser Iqbal and 19 others had filed a writ petition through Barrister Syed Ali Zafar relying mainly on Article 19(A) of the Constitution, which ensures the fundamental right of every citizen to have access to information in all matters of public interest.
The lawyer argued that releasing the inquiry report is clearly a matter of public interest and the provincial government of Punjab was bound under the law to give the required information to the petitioners.