ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Tuesday took suo motu notice of the Faizabad sit-in and sought a report from secretaries of the ministry of defence and the ministry of interior about the steps being taken to protect the citizens’ rights.

As a two-member bench, comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Faez Isa, took up the case of a petitioner, Sher Jamal, his counsel sought adjournment of the case, saying he could not prepare the case as his office situated in Faizabad was closed due to the sit-in of Tehreek-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat, Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) and Sunni Tehreek (ST). The bench was informed that the defence lawyer also could not reach the court because of the sit-in at the Faizabad Interchange.

Taking notice of the issue, Justice Faez Isa also issued notices to the attorney general of Pakistan, advocate general of Punjab and advocate general of Islamabad and the Islamabad inspector general of police.

The routine life and businesses surrounding the sit-in venue have been crippled for over two weeks due to the protest of an alliance of religious parties, demanding the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid and stern action against those behind the changes in the declaration form for electoral candidates regarding Khatm-e-Nabuwwat, the finality of prophethood. The government says the said alteration in the declaration form was a ‘clerical error’ which has subsequently been rectified.

The court directed AGP Ashtar Ausaf to file comments on behalf of the ministries of interior and defence, intelligence agencies under their respective ministries, including the Intelligence Bureau, and the Inter-Services Intelligence and then inform the bench what measures have been taken to protect the constitutional rights of the citizens.

The court asked Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mehmood whether highways and roads could be blocked. He replied he himself was facing tremendous difficulties due to the sit-in and he had to leave his home at 6:30am to reach the apex court.

The bench said: “Those in the dharna are ostensibly advocating a religious cause without recourse to courts, including the Federal Shariat Court, by taking the law into their hands and creating divisions and differences against the clear proscription by Almighty Allah in Surah Ash-Shura (42) Ayat 13, Surah Aal-e-Imran (3) Ayat 103 and Ayat 105.”

“Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) warned: “Do not engage in disagreement thereby causing discord among your hearts.” When two Muslims were loudly arguing in disagreement about the meaning of a Quranic verse, the prophet said: “People before you perished only because of their disagreement about the ‘Scripture’. In his famous sermon delivered at the Mount Arafat, he said: “Every Muslim is other Muslim’s brother and that all Muslims are brethren”.

The bench said Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) disliked dissension, adding those voicing such views in the ‘dharna’ are attempting to undermine the glory of Islam and acting contrary to Article 227 of the Constitution.

The court observed: “It appears the capital city of Islamabad and Rawalpindi are being held hostage at the hands of a few miscreants, while state functionaries appear to be negotiating with them rather than clearing the way for the people who are being denied access to courts, schools and workplaces.”

“It has also been reported that access of ambulances and sick persons to hospitals is impeded, children can’t reach schools and students can’t reach their colleges and universities,” the court observed.

The court also observed the leaders of the ‘dharna’ were also reported to be using abusive and filthy language and promoting enmity.

The bench noted the prevailing situation demonstrates that the matter was one of the public interest and fundamental rights of the citizens enshrined in the Constitution are prima facie being infringed, which has forced this court to take notice under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.