ISLAMABAD                  -             The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday turned down a petition seeking constitution of a high-level judicial commission to ascertain the responsibility of the people who failed to perform their obligations resulting in the increase of coronavirus patients in the country.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice AtharMinallah conducted hearing of a petition moved by civil society of Pakistan through Ihtesham Ahmad and dismissed the same after hearing the arguments of both the sides.

The IHC bench stated in its verdict that the petitioner is aggrieved on account of failure on part of the federal government to take prompt and proper action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the petitioner, in particular, is aggrieved on account of lack of proper arrangements having been made on the border between Pakistan and another neighbouring country.

It added that the petitioner prayed for constituting a ‘Judicial Commission’ to inquire into the matter. The petitioner,society, also sought other prayers which are in the nature of interfering with the policy of the government.

Justice Athar noted in the judgment, “The World Health Organization has declared “Public Emergency of International Concern” and pursuant thereto the Government of Pakistan has formulated a comprehensive National Action Plan. The federal government and the provincial governments are dealing with the crisis in order to prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 and safeguard the citizens from harm.”

“In such a situation it is not appropriate to doubt the bonafides of the State and its functionaries. Moreover, it is a global challenge to contain the spread of the COVID-19. It is the duty of every citizen to act in a responsible manner. It is not a time to raise controversies or to doubt the intention of the State and its functionaries in meeting the challenges posed by the deadly COVID-19. The challenges can only be met through a united stand. Indeed in these challenging times the saying that ‘united we stand and divided we fall’ is most relevant,” maintained the bench.

It added, “It is, therefore, not in public interest to entertain the petition as it would raise an unnecessary controversy and prejudice the efforts of the State to combat the challenges posed by an invisible enemy. Moreover, the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 199 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 cannot be exercised to conduct roving inquiries. It is of paramount importance to remain united and have trust and confidence in the State and its functionaries and avoid raising controversies at this stage.”

The bench noted, “For the above reasons, this Court is not inclined to entertain this petition and, therefore, it is accordingly dismissed.

The civil society filed the petition through its counsel Tariq Asad Advocate and cited the federation of Pakistan through Secretary Interior, Prime Minister through his Principal Secretary, SayedZulfikar Abbas Bukhari alias ZulfiBukhari Advisor to the Prime Minister, Director General ISPR, and Director General National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) as respondents.

According to the petitioner, the government of Pakistan failed to exercise their diplomatic privileges to convince the government of Iran to keep the zaireen and provide them facilities required in the prevailing situation.

He added that consequently the zaireen were shifted to different cities of Pakistan like Multan and Sukhar. He maintained that since at that time, there was no patient of Coronavirus in Pakistan but after they were shifted from Iran, the virus was transferred to the other citizens and spread.

The petitions said, “As revealed by media, ZulfiBukhari/respondent No. 3 played the role to allow the zaireen to cross the border and enter into Pakistan. Thus he used political influence to allow the thousands of the pilgrims to enter Pakistan through the Taftan border without completing the 14-day quarantine process in Iran.”

It added, “He rejected the allegations in a tweet and slammed the miscreants for inflaming unnecessary controversy at a time of national emergency. But the allegation was true and unrebuttable. Several pilgrims were tested positive for the Coronavirus after they returned homes following a mandatory 14-day quarantine stay in the tent city in Taftan.”

The petitioner said, it has been recently further decided to shift 3,000 out of 9,000 zaireen from Iran to Faisalabad city and keep them in the building of Agricultural University. “It reveals that the federal government intends to spread Coronavirus in Faisalabad and all the other cities of Pakistan evenly as there is so for no sign of any suspected patient of the virus in Faisalabad; hence it is apprehended to spread it therein also,” he maintained.

He continued that the government, unfortunately, instead of controlling the ailment is promoting it to spread in all the cities which are so for not infected.  It is, therefore, advisable not to shift the zaireen from Iran in the congested areas of other cities and be kept in remote areas to protect others; hence in case they are shifted to Faisalabad, Jhang or other cities, the respondents would be responsible and the affected people shall have right to sue them in the competent courts of law.

He asserted that the government has failed to take proper measures in time to control the ailment.

Therefore, he prayed to the court to direct the respondents to constitute a high level Judicial Commission to look into the matter and place the responsibility of recklessness as to who failed to perform their legal and constitutional obligations resulting the increase of the patients and failing to take necessary measures in time.

He also requested the court to direct the respondents not to shift the zaireen from Iran in the congested areas of other cities like Faisalabad or Jhang and be kept in remote areas to protect others; hence in case they are shifted to Faisalabad or other cities, the respondents would be responsible for it.