SC orders setting up of judicial body to probe APS attack

Published October 6, 2018
Parents of the children martyred in the terrorist attack on the Army Public School, Peshawar, talking to reporters outside the Supreme Court.—Online
Parents of the children martyred in the terrorist attack on the Army Public School, Peshawar, talking to reporters outside the Supreme Court.—Online

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the appointment of a judicial commission to investigate the 2014 terrorist attack on the Army Public School (APS), Peshawar, in which 140 people, including 132 children, were martyred.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar instructed Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) Waqar Ahmed Seth to nominate a senior judge to investigate the atrocity.

The commission will file a report after a thorough inquiry lasting six weeks that will then be taken up by the apex court, which has taken suo motu notice of the complaints of parents of children martyred in the attack who claim that real culprits of the attack have yet to be arrested by the authorities.

The parents of the martyred children had held a protest demonstration outside the PHC to express their anger and annoyance over the slow pace of investigation into the terrorist attack.

Commission will file report to apex court after six-week inquiry

During the proceedings on Friday, the chief justice recalled that the apex court had held a hearing in Peshawar on May 9, but could not pass any order. The suo motu notice was taken the same day when the parents of the martyred children requested the chief justice to order a judicial inquiry into the carnage.

The parents complained that a few weeks before the attack, the authorities had been alerted by the National Counter Terrorism Authority to the possibility of an attack on an army-run institution, but no measures had been taken to prevent the attack.

The parents pointed out that they had been demanding justice for the last three years and had been calling for the appointment of a judicial commission to look into the incident, but to no avail.

“We cannot bring back the near and dear ones who lost their lives but at least we can lessen the agony and grief of the victim families to some extent,” said Chief Justice Nisar.

He asked the parents to list the problems they had faced in their pursuit of justice in the APS case and said he might attend Quran Khwani on Oct 16. Since the APS attack took place on Dec 16, 2014, the parents and other affected people hold Quran Khwani on the 16th of every month.

Meanwhile, the bench warned that it would not accept the appointment of Mumtaz Kahloon as chairman of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) if the decision was made by Prime Minister Imran Khan after bypassing the cabinet.

Chief Justice Nisar recalled how in the Mustafa Impex case it was held that the federal government functioned through the prime minister as well as the cabinet and every decision had to be made through the latter.

“We will suspend the appointment if the approval... is not sought from the cabinet,” he said and observed that mistakes were committed in previous governments and were being committed now as well.

Earlier, the court had termed the appointment of PML-N leader Siddiqul Farooq as chairman of the ETPB “illegal” and had asked the government to appoint another person to the coveted post.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2018

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