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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Saturday asked the federal and provincial law officers to come prepared on the next date of hearing to argue on the proposed establishment of a judicial commission to investigate the May 12 riots.

A two-judge bench, comprising Justices Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Mohammad Karim Khan Agha, also directed the amicus curiae to appear on the next date and adjourned the hearing till Aug 13.

The bench was hearing a constitutional petition filed by a human rights activist, Syed Mohammad Iqbal Kazmi, seeking a judicial inquiry into the violent incidents that took place in the metropolis on May 12, 2007.

On Saturday, provincial Prosecutor General Ayaz Tunio filed a report, which mentioned that 65 cases pertaining to the incidents of violence on May 12 were registered at different police stations in the city.

Lawyers Shahab Sarki and Faisal Siddiqui appointed amicus curiae in the case

The report stated that currently 24 cases were under trial. It revealed that 35 FIRs were declared ‘A’ class and one ‘C’ class. It further said that four nominated suspects had been acquitted by the courts concerned and one was convicted.

The petitioner asked the court to order the establishing of a judicial commission to inquire into the violent incidents. But, Additional Attorney General Salman Talibuddin opposed the request and asked that how the terms of reference of the proposed judicial commission could be drawn and what could be achieved by constituting a judicial commission as the matter was already pending in court.

The acting provincial advocate general and two senior lawyers, Shahab Sarki and Faisal Siddiqui, who have been appointed amicus curiae, were not present.

The bench members observed that the court had to decide the matter within three months in the light of the directives given by the Supreme Court. The bench asked the additional attorney general and the acting AG of Sindh to come prepared to argue on the matter on the next date of hearing. It also directed the amicus curiae to assist the court in the case.

The petitioner, who had withdrawn his petition on Nov 19, 2007, approached the court after the restoration of the pre-Nov 3, 2007 judiciary for reopening the case.

Initially, a larger bench of the SHC was hearing the May 12 petitions. However, the proceedings could not be concluded owing to the imposition of a provisional constitution order (PCO) in November 2007 and later the matter was disposed of by another bench of the PCO, and the matter had been pending since then for revisiting the court orders.

In May, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had also sought the record of applications pending before the SHC regarding the May 12 mayhem.

Around 50 people were killed and over 100 wounded on May 12, 2007 in attacks on rallies organised by different political parties and lawyers to receive the then deposed chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry at Karachi airport to attend a lawyers’ gathering, but he was forced to fly back to Islamabad after nine-hour restricted stay at the airport.

He had named former president Pervez Musharraf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain, the then home adviser Wasim Akhtar, the then home secretary Ghulam Mohammad Mohtaram, the then interior secretary, the then Sindh Rangers director general, the then provincial inspector general of police Niaz Siddiqui, the then Capital City Police officer Azhar Farooqui and the then City Courts police station’s SHO as respondents in the petition.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2018