LAHORE - A special division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) issued notices to the prosecutor general, Punjab Bar Council and Pakistan Bar Council on a petition against inadequate security arrangements in the courts here on Sunday.

The division bench observed that the case reflects the dismal state of security on the court premises after six incidents took place in Lahore in the recent past, resulting in the killing of more than 10 persons either in custody or while appearing in the courts. Moreover, three attacks on advocates of Lahore during the same period resulted in the killing of two lawyers and miraculous survival of another in the third incident.

The special division bench, comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Sheikh Najam-ul-Hassan, was hearing a petition filed by Advocate Kashif Pasha. The bench remarked that the courts were the sanctuary for the oppressed to seek justice against wrongdoers. “If a court premises is violated by incidents of serious crimes, it should cease to be a refuge for the oppressed. No society can survive without justice and justice cannot be accessed without independent, safe and secure courts,” the LHC bench remarked.

The incidents that took place in the recent past throughout the province could affect the credibility of the court system, the bench observed and criticised the poor police performance, pointing out that no progress had been made in investigation into most of these heinous crimes.

“Similar incidents have also occurred in the courts of Gujranwala, DG Khan, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Kasur and Sargodha, but no progress has been made in apprehending the culprits and the matters are still under investigation,” the special bench noticed.

The court held that a fair investigation was an essential element for the provision of justice. To ensure and guarantee fair investigation into a criminal case was, therefore, the responsibility of a functional criminal justice system. The police force must be dynamic and proactive to answer the call of their duty, it added.

The police authorities should propose a security plan to the court for every judicial complex in the province. The accomplishment of the task necessarily required expertise, the bench observed.

The bench proposed that a central police cell, comprising a team of competent officers, should be constituted by the inspector general of police to undertake the tasks assigned and assist the court on the next date of hearing with reports on the cases. The court desired that in terms of the structural strength of the investigation wing of the police department in the province, the report should state the steps taken already and others that are contemplated to ensure competence and independence of the investigating authorities.

The court issued notices to the Punjab prosecutor general, Pakistan Bar Council and Punjab Bar Council for the next date of hearing fixed as August 1.  Earlier, Justice Najam-ul-Hassan, while referring the matter to Justice Umar Ata Bandial for adjudication by a larger bench, issued notices to home secretary, IG police, CCPO and the district and judges as well as presidents of bar associations to suggest measures to cope with the situation.