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LAHORE: Women activists of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chant slogans during a protest outside the Supreme Court Registry on Monday. They demanded justice for the Model Town tragedy’s victims.—Online
LAHORE: Women activists of Pakistan Awami Tehreek chant slogans during a protest outside the Supreme Court Registry on Monday. They demanded justice for the Model Town tragedy’s victims.—Online

LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday announced constituting a larger bench of the Supreme Court to decide a legal point whether a new joint investigation team (JIT) could be formed at the present stage of trial pending adjudication in the Model Town killings case.

A two-judge SC bench headed by the chief justice was hearing an application moved by a woman aggrieved by the incident seeking constitution of a new JIT. Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri and secretary general Khurram Nawaz Gandapur were present in the court.

Mr Qadri informed the court that there had been no progress in the proceedings of a private complaint before an antiterrorism court moved by Idara Minhajul Quran, affiliated with the PAT. He said that one of the suspects, former inspector general of police Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera, had secured a stay order from the Lahore High Court against the summons issued by the trial court.

However, after the high court withdrew the stay order the trial became de novo as all the witnesses were testifying afresh. He argued that there would be no harm if a new JIT was formed to investigate the incident afresh.

CJP Nisar says Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will be one of the members of the bench

Advocates Zahid Bokhari and Azam Nazir Tarar, representing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and others, sought time to advance arguments on the point of new JIT. Mr Tarar, however, said that statements of more than 50 witnesses had been recorded in the private complaint of the PAT. He pointed out that the PAT had already filed in the Supreme Court an appeal challenging the high court decision on the subject matter.

Chief Justice Nisar said the larger bench would decide the law point whether a new JIT could be formed to investigate a matter already sub judice before a court of law, adding that Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, known for his expertise in criminal law, would be one of the members of the bench.

The chief justice observed that the larger bench could also decide the fate of the PAT appeal and would hear the case at the Islamabad seat likely on Dec 5.

The SC had issued notices to Nawaz Sharif, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif and 137 others nominated in a case lodged by the PAT on the application filed by Bisma Amjad, invoking human rights jurisdiction of the court.

The other parliamentarians and bureaucrats nominated as accused by the PAT include Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz, former provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, former defence minister Khawaja Asif, former information minister Pervez Rashid, former state minister Abid Sher Ali, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, then personal secretary to the chief minister Syed Tauqir Shah, former home minister Azam Suleman and then Lahore commissioner Rashid Mahmood Langrial. The accused police officers include former IGP Mushtaq Sukhera, former Lahore DIG (operations) Rana Abdul Jabbar and then SP (security) Salman Ali Khan.

On Sept 26, a three-judge LHC bench with a majority decision by two to one had dismissed two criminal revision appeals challenging the trial court’s decision on PAT’s private complaint to the extent of non-summoning of 12 accused, including the PML-N leaders and bureaucrats.

At least 14 people were killed and over 100 injured during an ‘anti-encroachment’ operation outside the Model Town residence of PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri on June 17, 2014. PAT’s Jawad Hamid had filed the private complaint in the trial court.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2018