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LHC orders Punjab govt to release Najafi report on Model Town tragedy

Updated September 21, 2017

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday decided on a petition seeking the disclosure of a judicial inquiry report on the 2014 Model Town tragedy, ordering the provincial authorities to release Justice Ali Baqar Najafi's report for public review.

Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi of the LHC directed the Punjab secretary to take action after hearing a petition filed by the families of victims of the 2014 tragedy.

Qaiser Iqbal and 19 others had filed a writ petition through Barrister Syed Ali Zafar relying mainly on Article 19(A) of the Constitution, which ensures the fundamental right of every citizen to have access to information in all matters of public interest.

The lawyer argued that releasing the inquiry report is clearly a matter of public interest and the provincial government of Punjab was bound under the law to give the required information to the petitioners.

He stressed that this was a case of enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed to the petitioners and to all members of the public.

He adopted the argument that the high court, under Article 199 of the Constitution, is the custodian and protector of fundamental rights, and thus has the constitutional obligation to direct the government to publish the report in its original form, without any manipulation, tampering or deletions.

On June 17, 2014, as many as 14 people were killed and 100 others injured when police attacked the residence of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri in Model Town during an ‘anti-encroachment’ operation.

"Making the report public is the first step towards justice," Qadri said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters, the PAT chief added that the LHC's orders would renew hope among the relatives of Model Town affectees.

"We waited almost three years but not one culprit was caught," the PAT chief said, adding that while rallies and protests were held to gain justice after the incident, no remarks were made against the judiciary.