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SC forms five-member larger bench to decide on forming new JIT in Model Town case

Updated December 04, 2018

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Policemen look on with their weapons during clashes with supporters of Tahirul Qadri in Model Town, Lahore on June 17, 2014. —AFP/File
Policemen look on with their weapons during clashes with supporters of Tahirul Qadri in Model Town, Lahore on June 17, 2014. —AFP/File

The Supreme Court on Tuesday formed a five-member larger bench to decide on a legal point of whether a new joint investigation team (JIT) could be formed at the present stage of trial pending adjudication in the Model Town case.

The five-member bench comprises Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.

Notices have been issued to 146 individuals including — former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Hamza Shahbaz, PML-N's Rana Sanaullah, Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar, former foreign minister Khawaja Asif — on behalf of the apex court.

The larger bench will begin hearing the case from Wednesday.

Justice Nisar on November 19 announced constituting a larger bench of the SC.

Bisma Amjad, a woman affected by the incident, had filed a petition requesting to constitute a new JIT to probe the killings of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers in the incident.

Model Town incident

On June 17, 2014, 14 people were killed and 100 others injured after police launched an assault on PAT supporters gathered outside the residence of Tahirul Qadri in Model Town, Lahore.

A subsequent judicial inquiry report on the incident pointed fingers at then Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah and the Punjab police for what had transpired that day.

From a reading of the conclusions of Justice Baqar Najafi's report, it is understandable why the provincial government fought tooth and nail to prevent its release.

It is also understandable why its publication was preceded by a lengthy press conference by Rana Sanaullah in which he sought to highlight the report's flaws, including what he called its reliance on "secondary evidence" and it, therefore, having no legal status whatsoever.

He kept referring to it as "defective", and the Punjab government made sure the Justice Najafi report was accompanied online by a one-man committee's report on a review of its flaws.

Delineating the chronology of events, Justice Najafi reported that then Punjab minister for parliamentary affairs Rana Sanaullah seemed to have already decided on June 16, 2014, that the PAT Chairman Qadri would not be allowed any opportunity to hold a long march from Rawalpindi to Lahore, as the latter had planned to do on June 23, 2014.

This single-minded determination of the minister to thwart Qadri's political objectives ended up influencing the police's heavy-handed strategy in dealing with the situation, which resulted in the needless loss of lives the very next day, Justice Najafi argued in the report.

Though Justice Najafi himself did not affix responsibility for the tragedy, he invited readers to review the facts and circumstances and "easily fix the responsibility of the unfortunate Minhajul Quran incident" themselves.