A larger bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday decided to take up a petition against the Pakistan Awami Tehreek's (PAT) upcoming protest against the PML-N government, set to begin on January 17.
LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah had ordered the formation of a full bench, under Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan and comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Shahid Karim.
However, just as the larger bench sat down to begin the hearing, Justice Farrukh recused himself from the case, citing personal reasons.
The bench was then reformed with Justice Aminuddin leading it and Justice Shahid Jamil Khan replacing Justice Farrukh.
The petition was filed by Advocate AK Dogar in the name of the lawyers' forum.
According to the petition, protests called by political parties are against Article 124 of the Constitution, adding that such protests may cause disruption in the country.
"Such protests also cause a hindrance in the daily life of the citizens," the petition said.
The petition stated that the LHC should call for a reply from the political parties that are planning the protest and in the meantime, keep them from blocking Mall Road on January 17.
The bench adjourned the hearing till tomorrow morning while asking the federal government and other stakeholders to submit their replies in the case
Traders want protest moved to Nasir Bagh
In a separate petition regarding the same matter, traders from the area where the protest will be held asked the court to move the venue of the protest to Nasir Bagh.
"We do not want to deprive the protesters from their democratic right, however if the protest is moved to Nasir Bagh, our daily lives will not be disrupted," the protesters petition said.
The hearing of the case is still underway.
Educational institutions to remain shut, PAT gears up
As the PAT gears up to take to Mall Road tomorrow and re-launch an agitation campaign against the PML-N government, the Punjab education ministry has decided to keep schools and colleges in the area shut for at least the next two days.
"The government will decide when to reopen educational institutions depending on what the situation is," said Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashood.
The private school association has also agreed to keep all schools shut in the area as well.
On the other hand, PAT is busy preparing for its protest on Mall Road, where they will reiterate their demand for Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah's resignation for their alleged complicity in the Model Town incident.
The main stage for the protest is being created at the Charing Cross roundabout. The stage is 80 feet long and 40ft wide.
Due to security concerns, 40ft on the sides of the stage will be kept vacant. The PAT leadership has placed five large television screens from Charring cross to DPO roundabout — the area which will be occupied by PAT protesters.
All markets at or near Mall Road, Panorama Centre, Hall Road and Regal roundabout will remain shut for the duration of the protest.