ISLAMABAD - Rejecting the federation plea to stop Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) from staging demonstration on the Constitution Avenue, the Supreme Court has said that handling political matters is responsibility of government, which has power and authority to proceed in accordance with the law and the constitution.

Attorney General Salman Butt, representing the federation prayed that the PAT should be ordered not to block the Constitution Avenue. Heading a five-member bench, Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk said: “We can’t pass any order in this regard and the government should handle it itself as it has the authority and power and can proceed in accordance with the law and constitution.”

During the proceeding, the chief justice said that due to rallies the judges too faced difficulties in reaching the court. He said it took him half-an-hour to reach the court from Judges Lodges. Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Kamran Murtaza, who had filed the petition against blocking the Red Zone by PTI and PAT, reached the court on motorcycle by taking lift.

Hamid Khan, who represented the PTI along with Ahmed Awais advocate, assured the court that there would be no obstruction. “PTI has commitment for the supremacy of the constitution and rule of law and the party will not hinder movement of the people on the Constitution Avenue.”

He said, “We don’t want to storm the buildings and block the roads,” adding; “We will not breach any constitutional line as we are totally committed to upholding of the constitution.” The court directed him to file concise statement on behalf of his party by tomorrow (Friday).

Appreciating the PTI statement, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said it was quite heartening. He, however, questioned why the need was felt to change the venue of protest, saying there was obstruction on the ground. Why the people were put into difficulty, he asked. Justice Jawwad said there should be proper way to protest, and that should be in civilized manner. He asked Hamid Khan that the protest could be staged a few meters away from the Constitution Avenue. Expressing concern over the derogatory language used by the PTI and PAT leaders in the protest rallies, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali remarked that the leaders should avoid using indecent language in the demonstration. “Sitting in front of the Parliament House, abusing and condemning the parliamentarians was not right,” he remarked. Justice Saqib Nisar told Hamid Khan, “We are happy that you have come back from London and hope the matter would be resolved now.”

Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa asked the PTI counsels that it was said the protestors were struggling for justice but it has become difficult to come for justice. They are talking about constitution but the Constitution Avenue is blocked, he said, adding they were not asking the parties to retreat or withdraw their demands, as the court would not interfere in the political matter and the government should handle the crisis itself.

Asma Jahangir, who argued the SCBA president’s petition, contended that freedom of assembly, expression, association and speech are the fundamental rights of everyone but some people were thinking it was their absolute right. The SCBA ex-president said there should be responsible restriction on it, adding that coming for protest is right but it should not be to dislodge the government and ask for the PM’s resignation.

The court had issued notices to the respondents including the federation, PTI and PAT chiefs. The AGP on behalf of the federation had filed the reply, while during the proceeding Hamid Khan and Awais Ahmed represented the PTI. The court noticed that the PAT was also issued notice and PAT General Secretary Khurram Gandapur received the notice on behalf of party, but during the hearing there was no one to represent the PAT.

Earlier, Hamid Khan informed the court that they got the notice last night and he could not read the petitions filed by various bars. He prayed the court to adjourn the case till Monday as he had to go to Lahore to attend his friend’s funeral. The court, however, told him to file the statement by tomorrow.

Former Sindh High Court Bar Association president Rasheed A Rizvi filed the petition on behalf of Karachi stockbrokers and traders. He contended that since the start of long marches the Karachi Stock Exchange has collapsed and the Index Point has dipped. The hearing was adjourned until today (Friday).