LAHORE - A number of petitions against the PAT-PTI sit-ins in Islamabad about three years ago took a new turn last week when the Lahore High Court called for a 26-year-old official report, which reportedly deals with the mental health of Dr Tahirul Qadri.

Prepared after PAT chief’s allegations about an attempt on his life, the report says the incident was fabricated and the complainant was a ‘psychopath’.

A full bench headed by Justice Muhammad Anwarul Haq and consisting of Justice Kazim Raza Shamsi and Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi keenly discussed the report, which was prepared by the then commission headed by retired Justice Akhtar Ali.

The report came into question when a lawyer from the petitioners’ side said that Dr Tahirul Qadri was declared a ‘psychopath’ in a judicial commission’s report and this man threatens again and again to launch ‘dharnas’ and processions to destabilise the government. The LHC full bench took up last week this three years old matter of PAT and PTI sit-ins in Islamabad.

Lawyers Foundation, Rana Ilamuddin Ghazi, Amjad Ali Qasim and others had challenged the sit-ins of the PTI and PAT in Islamabad in 2014.

As the hearing started, Justice Haq asked the counsel for the petitioners if the petitions stood infructuous since the activity challenged before the court was no more there.

On this, Advocate A.K. Dogar contended that the question of fundamental rights had been raised in the petitions, as basic rights of citizens and economy of the country had been in danger due to the sit-ins. He contended that the petitions had not become infractuous and should be decided on merit.

However, a petitioner’s counsel said the judicial inquiry report, which called Qadri a ‘psychopath’, was not made public by the government. The registrar’s office told the court that of the inquiry report was prepared by LHC Justice (r) Akhtar Ali and was handed over to the then Punjab chief secretary.

The report, the lawyer said, had termed the firing incident pre-planned. On this, the bench directed the federal and provincial governments to submit report at the next hearing and adjourned the proceedings until Jan 23, 2018.

The petitioners had submitted that both PTI and PAT wanted to create unrest and anarchy in the country by staging processions and sit-ins. He said that Tahirul Qadir was roaming free despite the fact that a number of courts had issued his arrest warrants. They appealed to the court to order his arrest and impose a ban on the sit-in in future.

On August 13, 2014, the LHC in its short order held, "The respondents PTI and PAT are restrained meanwhile from launching the Azadi March, Inquilab March or holding a dharna at Islamabad in an unconstitutional way keeping in view the sanctity of Independence Day and the chaotic and uncertain situation prevailing in the country."

Besides, Supreme Court Bar Association’s petition in the LHC challenging “The Election Act, 2017”, which paved the way for the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif to become head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), emerged as a prominent matter last week.

SCBA Secretary Aftab Ahmad Bajwa moved the petition and called into question the very election of Sharif as president of the PML-N. He submitted that a person disqualified by the Supreme Court under Articles 62 and 63 could not become head of a political party. He argued that when a person cannot become a parliamentarian then surely he cannot become head or office bearer of a political party as well. It would be mockery of justice if a disqualified person is allowed to lead a political party, he said.

He also said that through this election the ruling party had bypassed the doctrine of basic structure and other constitutional interpretations due to which the parliament had lost its powers. Bajwa questioned the constitutionality of the new law, saying a single legislation could not overrule all other laws related to elections. A provision in a democratic form of a government cannot lay down unlimited rights in view of Article 17 wherein it was clearly mentioned that every person has the right to form a political party subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law, such right cannot be taken away by repealing Political Parties Order, 2002, he submitted.

He further said that just one political party cannot be given such favour while all other political parties have started showing their reservations regarding the new law passed in the name of Election Reform. He prayed to the court to set aside election of Nawaz Sharif as president of the PML-N and also set aside Sections 203 and 232 of the Election Act, 2017 for being completely without jurisdiction, unconstitutional, malafide, void ab-initio and of no legal effect.

However, it may be mentioned here that some identical petitions against ‘Election Act, 2017’ are already pending adjudication before the Lahore High Court.

Another important litigation of the week was the challenge to the appointment of Naseer Bhutta as chief information commissioner. This is an interesting case from the legal perspective as a leader of the ruling party was given an important position immediately after he stepped down as deputy attorney general.