LAHORE: Families of the victims of the 2014 Model Town incident have approached the Lahore High Court for the release of a judicial inquiry report conducted by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi into the killings of Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s workers.
Qaiser Iqbal and 19 others filed a writ petition through Barrister Syed Ali Zafar mainly relying on Article 19(A) of the Constitution, which ensures fundamental right of every citizen to have access to information in all matters of public interest.
The lawyer states in the petition that releasing the inquiry report is clearly a matter of public interest and the Punjab home secretary is bound under the law to give the required information to the petitioners. He argues that this is a case of enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed to the petitioners and to all the members of the public.
He says the high court under Article 199 of the Constitution is the custodian and protector of fundamental rights, and has the constitutional obligation to direct the government to publish the report as per the original, without any manipulation, tampering or deletions.
The counsel pleads the report, whether right or wrong, or whatever its evidentiary value, is a report of a judicial commission on a very important matter, and accordingly everybody in Pakistan has the right to know what is stated by the inquiry judge.
Barrister Zafar contends that the government cannot hide behind its governmental power and stop the publication of the inquiry report. He says blatant disregard of constitutional provisions and refusal to provide fundamental right of access to information by the government smacks of mala fide intention and is patently illegal.
The counsel argues that the provincial government has been assuming, wrongly and illegally, that only the government has the right on the report.
However, he submits, the public bodies do not hold any public information on their own behalf, rather they hold it for the benefit of all members of the public. Therefore, he states the inquiry report is held by the government for the benefit of the citizens and every individual has the right to access it.
The counsel asks the court to enforce fundamental rights of the petitioners and order the home secretary of the province to immediately make the report of Justice Najafi public.
On June 17, 2014, as many as 14 people were killed and 100 others injured when police attacked residence of PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri in Model Town during an ‘anti-encroachment’ operation.
Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2017