LAHORE - The Lahore High Court last week took up a number of important cases including bail matter of PAT leader Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, restriction of 24-year of age for admission in five-year LLB program, MQM chief case, Sharif family’s alleged offshore companies, issue of climate change, ban on film ‘Maalik’ and PTI’s procession towards PM’s residence in Raiwind.

However, hundreds of many other cases which were fixed for the last week were simply adjourned to other dates due to which general litigants and lawyers both faced lot of problems.

The challenge of adjournments is still out of control. Around 125,000 cases are already pending before LHC while 1.3 million cases in the lower judiciary. Along with daily addition, the pendency is piling up.

This delay, to common man, is denial of justice.

Effective planning has yet to be introduced to deal with this challenge. Incumbent Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali shah has said that he would reform judiciary. Hopefully, the CJ could device such an effective policy which would be helpful to overcome such a burden of pending cases on higher judiciary.

Despite all these adjournments, the week was witnessed with many important cases. The chief justice constituted a three-member full bench to hear petitions challenging PTI procession towards PM’s residence in Raiwind. The bench comprising Justice Shahid Hameed Dar, Justice Muhammad Anwaarul Haq and Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan would take up the petition during the ongoing week.

PTI plans to take rally towards Raiwind on Sept 30. The situation is same as two years ago, when PTI and PAT had announced to hold long marches towards Islamabad. The matter was in the court which announced its verdict the day before the PTI marched on the capital city.

The other important matter that was taken up by the LHC was the bail matter of PAT leader Khurram Nawaz Gandapur who appeared before a division bench of the LHC to seek protective bail in Model Town incident. The bench, headed by Justice Abdul Sami Khan, granted him protective bail after which he appeared before an anti-terrorism court to record his statement regarding the incident.

Khurram Nawaz Gandapur as last witness recorded his statement to the ATC. The court after hearing his statement adjourned further proceedings until Sept 27.

During the week, the LHC also set aside restriction of 24-year of age for admission in five-year program of LLB. The LHC CJ passed the order on several petitions challenging the five-year program and 24 year of age restriction for admission.

The bench observed that the age limit policy was in violation of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. The bench formed special committees for across the province comprising representatives of Pakistan Bar Council, Punjab Bar Council, universities/colleges and respective DCOs/DPOs for the scrutiny of law colleges and academies. The court directed the committees to submit reports regarding their respective districts by Oct 24.

Hearing the petition against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family members for having offshore companies, the LHC summoned Prosecutor General of National Accountability Bureau. The court would resume hearing by Oct 5.

The LHC also issued notice to Muttahida Qaumi Movement in a petition seeking cancellation of its registration for anti-state speeches of its chief, Altaf Hussain. During the hearing, CJ Shah sent the matter to the full bench headed by Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi which is already hearing the matter.

A law officer on behalf of the federal government said that it is the prerogative of the government to decide such petition. “It is not a binding on the government,” said the law officer.

The petitioner's counsel, however, maintained that the prime minister and his cabinet were bound to take notice of any attack on the integrity of the state but they did not. He asked the court to order the government to cancel MQM registration as a political party.

After hearing both sides, the chief justice issued notice to MQM leadership and sent the matter to the full bench. The court deferred further hearing until Oct 5.

The LHC also lifted ban on exhibition of a political, thriller film ‘Maalik’, and maintained the right of freedom of expression.

‘Maalik’ tells the story of a former special services commando hired to protect a corrupt feudal lord who has risen to become chief minister.

The LHC also ordered Punjab Food Authority to hold proper inspection of milk being supplied to urban areas by establishing pickets on roads.

Former Pepco managing director Tahir Basharat Cheema also lost his bail petition in the Lahore High Court in a NAB reference of alleged corruption and illegal recruitments against him. A division bench comprising Justice Mirza Viqas Rauf and Justice Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar passed the order after hearing arguments from prosecution and the defence.

The NAB had accused Cheema of misusing powers during his stint as MD Pepco and making illegal appointments in the power distribution company.

During the week, the court also ordered Punjab government to restore dilapidated, old and dangerous buildings within the limits of Walled City. Justice Shahid Jamil Khan passed the order while hearing a contempt petition against the authorities concerned.

Previously, the LHC had ordered the Punjab government for repairing of old and dangerous buildings within the limits of Walled City Authority. But the government did not comply with the orders against which a local petition moved contempt petition.

Also, last week, the CJ expressed serious dismay over casual approach of federal and provincial governments towards impact of climate change and water conservation. He was hearing a petition when questioned apathy of the authorities concerned on the issue. Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah said that the next generations would face a dearth of water if government failed to device a concrete policy on it.

A number of departments present in the court could not disclose any effective policy of the government to deal with the problems relating to climate change and shortage of water. At this, the CJ observed “it seems that the government is not taking the matter seriously and the court is being compelled to see it.”

He also regretted that federal and provincial governments were yet to finalise their water policies.

Shah directed the governments to submit details of the funds allocated for projects to deal with the effects of climate change. The judge further directed both federal and provincial governments to finalise their water policies by the end of this year and adjourned hearing till Dec 14.

Hafiz Saeed also approached the LHC to take up Kashmir issue at the international level. He filed an appeal against decision of a single bench which dismissed his petition for being non-maintainable.

A local lawyer also filed a petition against Indian movies being shown in local cinemas.

At the lower courts, the hearing of private complaint of Pakistan Awami Tehreek  against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and others for their alleged role in killing of innocent workers of the party in Model Town incident.

Azad Jammu & Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider’s visit was observed as the important visit of a dignitary at the Lahore High Court Bar Association during the week.

Haider, in his address to the bar members, shed light over the reasons behind Indian’s war phobia. He stated that India orchestrated the Uri attack with a negative approach of diverting world’s focus from untold atrocities being committed on Kashmiri people in Held-Kashmir.

He said the Pathankot attack was also carried by India herself to blame Pakistan at international level because China Pakistan Economic Corridor, being a game changer project, was not acceptable to it. “India does not want to see Pakistan prosper,” said the AJK premier. “Peace cannot be established when injustice is prevailing in the region.”