Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Sardar Mohammad Shamim Ahmed on Monday said that the federal government should be informed that resolving the Sahiwal killings case is its responsibility.
The elite Punjab police had in an alleged fake encounter last month killed four people, including parents Khalil and Nabeela, their teenage daughter, and neighbour Zeeshan, sending shock waves across the country as one of the couple's three surviving children who were witness to the episode denied the official version in a video that went viral on social media.
While hearing a petition calling for the formation of a judicial commission to replace the joint investigation team currently looking into the case, the chief justice ordered that the the testimony of the family members of the deceased be recorded.
The LHC chief justice was presented with the joint investigation team's initial report on the matter. The hearing had earlier been postponed for a few hours after the JIT chief had failed to present the report in court.
According to the government's lawyer, the JIT had collected all the evidence in the case and recorded all the statements.
"Tell the court what evidence has been discovered," the chief justice said, at which he was told that all discoveries have been provided to the court in writing.
"Who sends the counter-terrorism department to conduct an operation?" the LHC chief justice asked while also inquiring about the arrest of the officer who gave the orders [for Sahiwal operation] and the other suspects involved in the case.
The petitioner's lawyer said: "While 16 people were involved in the case, only five have been arrested."
The head of the JIT informed the court that the officer who had given the orders for the operation was suspended and made part of the investigation. "If someone tries to change the record, you will all be in jail," warned the chief justice.
The judge directed that a response from the government on resolving the case should be presented in the next hearing and adjourned the hearing until February 7.
Federal govt holds powers to form judicial commission, not the court
The bench had, earlier in the day, conceded that the court no longer holds the power to order the creation of such a commission.
"The court had ordered for the formation of a judicial commission in the Model Town case," the petitioner's lawyer said.
"The law has been changed and the federal government now holds the power [to order the creation of a judicial commission],"said while ordering that the court be informed about the steps to be taken for the formation of a commission.
Last week, the Punjab government had agreed to the formation of a judicial commission if the opposition is not satisfied with the JIT's report on the Sahiwal tragedy.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a one-on-one meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, directed him to ensure speedy justice to the grieving family.