ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Thursday hinted at invoking Article 190 of the Constitution if its orders regarding clearance of Constitution Avenue would not be complied with.

On assurance of the counsels of protesting parties, the court however gave PAT and PTI more time to evacuate at least one side road of the Constitution Avenue.

Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, heading a four-member bench hearing the petitions of SCBA and other bars, in reply to LHCBA president request said the court could pass formal order for removing PAT and PTI protesters from the Constitution Avenue and even call in army for implementation of its order.

“So far we have not passed any order regarding the matter (clearance of Constitution Avenue), but if we pass (any such order) and that is not implemented then Article 190 of the Constitution could be invoked,” the CJP remarked.

Article 190 says, “All executive and judicial authorities throughout Pakistan shall act in aid of the Supreme Court” for implementation of its orders. According to legal experts the apex court under Article 190 of the constitution has the power to call army for the compliance of its orders, as the executive authorities include the armed and civil forces.

During the hearing, army men posted in Supreme Court premises were on high alert to guard the judges against any attack from the activists of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

During the proceeding, Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) Multan Bench President Athar Shah Bukhari argued that PAT and PTI were not complying the court orders therefore the bench should pass an order under Article 190 of the Constitution.

Since the case started (on August 15) against the PTI and PAT sit-ins, the bench while restraining the executive authorities and functionaries from taking extra-constitutional measure wanted the parties settled the issue of clearing Constitution Avenue themselves, but so far they have failed despite commitments.

Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said, “We want to tread cautiously.” The chief justice said the court had passed interim order on the petitions of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Kamran Murtaza and others, but those are still pending and would be taken up at appropriate time.

Addressing the counsels of PAT and PTI, he said, “We have passed the order on the main issue (restraining executive authorities) on the first day of the hearing of the case, and not on the political issue and therefore have engaged you and we were satisfied that you will play role in resolving the matter.”

Justice Saqib Nisar also asked the lawyers of both the parties to get one side road of the Constitution Avenue cleared and if they wanted to continue sit-ins on the Avenue then peg tents on other side of road, and as long as they wanted to protest they could do it.

The judge said it is right that the PAT workers have gathered in Red Zone to protest against the killing of their near and dear ones in Model Town Lahore, but the court would not hear the political matter because if the PAT consider it was their rights to hold protest on the Constitution Avenue then they have a duty too to care about others’ rights as well.

The bench again asked the PTI and PAT counsels to consider clearing one side road of Constitution Avenue and submit their report. PAT counsel Barrister Ali Zafar filed the report, which stated that he along with Attorney General for Pakistan, President SCBA, Registrar SC, PTI counsel Hamid Khan and the lawyers of other bar associations visited the Constitution Avenue.

He said it was proposed that the people sitting in such areas as hindered free movement of the public functionaries and citizens could be requested to move back, and PTI and PAT would meet the PAT leadership for clearance of the road in front of Parliament House and the Supreme Court building.

“By 3pm on Thursday the PAT leadership had assured that the 3 lanes route on Constitution Avenue would be available for movement,” the report said.

The report also prayed, “Under the circumstances it is therefore prayed that the court may on this assurance and reality on ground kindly dismiss the petition.” But the court expressed dissatisfaction over the reply; however, on the request of the PTI and PAT counsels it gave more time for clearance of one road on the Avenue. The case was adjourned until September 1.