PESHAWAR: A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar here on Wednesday ordered an inquiry into the 2014 carnage at the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar through a judicial commission comprising a judge of the Peshawar High Court (PHC).
While a large number of parents of the martyred students, including mothers carrying pictures of their children, were present in the courtroom, the bench ordered the PHC chief justice to appoint a judge of the high court for the inquiry and said the commission should complete the inquiry within two months.
The bench did not pronounce any terms of reference for the inquiry.
CJP dissolves bench after Justice Qazi Faez Isa questions authority of apex court’s human rights cell to issue directives to any official
As a judicial inquiry into the APS massacre is a longstanding demand of the parents, several mothers burst into tears when the bench, whose other member is Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, pronounced the order.
The parents said they had been demanding justice and for the last over three years they had been putting forward their request for a judicial inquiry at different forums.
During Chief Justice Nisar’s previous visit to the Supreme Court’s Peshawar registry on April 19, the court had taken suo motu notice of the issue when the parents appeared before the bench and requested it to order a judicial inquiry into the matter to fix responsibility for negligence on the officials concerned.
The situation in the courtroom, which was full beyond its capacity, became tense when the father of a slain student, Advocate Fazal Khan, said that they were not satisfied with the PHC chief justice, over which CJP Nisar ordered him to leave the courtroom.
“If you had any complaint against the PHC chief justice, you should have come to me instead of making such a generalised observation in an open court,” CJP Nisar said, adding that he could not hear such assertions against judges in the court.
Two personnel of Rangers rushed to Fazal Khan to remove him from the courtroom, but the chief justice ordered them not to touch him. “Don’t ever try to touch any lawyer or litigant inside my court. You have got nothing to do with it.”
The parents had complained that some weeks before the APS carnage, the authorities concerned were told by the National Counter Terrorism Authority about plans of terrorists to attack an army-run educational institution, which might be the Peshawar APS. However, they said no steps were taken to prevent the attack.
In the deadliest terror attack in the country’s history, 131 schoolchildren and 10 other people were killed when heavily armed militants stormed the APS on Dec 16, 2014.
In an unusual development, a three-member bench of the SC was dissolved after Justice Qazi Faez Isa questioned the authority of the court’s human rights cell to issue directives to any official without orders of the court.
“We are rising, will reconstitute the bench and re-assemble,” CJP Nisar, who was heading the bench, pronounced after Justice Isa asked Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Advocate General Abdul Lateef Yousafzai to read out Article 184 (3) of the Constitution pertaining to jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
The bench was to hear different petitions, including some cases initiated by the chief justice on suo motu notices.
The issue surfaced when the bench was hearing a human rights case pertaining to hospital waste disposal and KP Health Secretary Abid Majeed was reading out from a report on incinerators in government hospitals. He said they had submitted the report on the directives of the human rights cell of the apex court.
Justice Isa observed that the cell had no power to issue directives without specific orders of the Supreme Court, and then inquired whether the cell’s director was present in the courtroom.
At this the chief justice pronounced that the bench would be reconstituted.
Later a two-member bench took up different cases.
Removal of check-posts ordered
The two-member bench ordered the KP chief secretary and military authorities to remove all check-posts, obstructions and hurdles on roads in Peshawar while allowing them to retain only a few check-posts in view of the security situation.
The bench ordered that a committee comprising officials of the Intelligence Bureau, Inter-Services Intelligence and civil authorities should decide which check-posts should continue.
The bench ordered KP Chief Secretary Azam Khan to submit a report within 48 hours about the progress in this regard.
Earlier senior advocate Muhammad Khursheed told the bench that a wall had been erected on a road leading to Governor House, which was in the past a thoroughfare. Similarly, he added, several important roads were out of bounds for commuters.
Azam Khan pointed out that presently there was a threat alert and the military was under a serious threat.
The chief justice ordered that all the pavements should also be free of obstructions.
Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2018