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Model Town case: AGP told to file written reply to contempt notice

Updated April 02, 2019

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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

LAHORE: A Lahore High Court three-judge bench on Monday directed Advocate General of Punjab (AGP) Ahmad Awais to submit in writing his response to a show-cause notice issued to him under Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2002 for showing contemptuous conduct during announcement of an interim order against a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) holding fresh probe into the 2014 Model Town incident.

Earlier, Mr Awais appeared before the bench along with dozens of bar members including some former presidents of Lahore High Court Bar Association affiliated to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s leader Hamid Khan-led Professional Group.

Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan headed the bench with Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan and Justice Aalia Neelum.

The judges were surprised when the bar leaders said the bench should show some tolerance and discharge the show-cause notice issued to the principal law officer of the province.

The bench observed that the conduct of the advocate general was unprecedented, contemptuous and an attempt to pressurise the judges.

Mr Awais also requested the bench to withdraw the notice saying he had great respect for courts. He said what happened in the court on last hearing was a result of misunderstanding and he never thought of committing contempt of court.

The bench directed the AGP to submit in writing whatever he wanted to say in response to the notice. The bench adjourned this matter till April 4 while allowed more time to the Punjab government to file its reply by April 11 on the petitions against formation of the new JIT.

The bench also issued notices to all members of the JIT.

Advocate Azhar Siddique on behalf of Pakistan Awami Tehreek challenged the formation of the full bench saying it was not constituted legally. At this, the bench asked him to file written application on the matter.

On March 22, the bench with a majority decision of two to one suspended the JIT formed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led Punjab government to hold fresh probe into the Model Town incident.

At the time of the announcement of the suspension order, AGP Awais along with other law officers had created a scene in the courtroom and lodged a protest against the verdict on a pretext that the office of the advocate general received no notice from the court about the proceedings.

However, the bench had noted that a law officer remained present during the whole proceedings and he did not opt to advance arguments. Taking exception to the conduct of the advocate general, the bench had issued him a show-cause notice under the contempt of court law.

Khurram Rafiq and other police officials, facing trial in the Model Town case, had filed the petitions challenging the legitimacy of the new JIT.

The lawyers of the petitioners had taken a plea that the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C) and Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 did not allow formation of fresh investigation in a case after submission of challan and framing of charges in particular.

They stated that the trial in the Model Town case initiated on a private complaint filed by Idara Minhajul Quran/Pakistan Awami Tehreek was near to conclusion as 86 out of 135 witnesses had been testified before the trial court. They said a judicial inquiry and a JIT had already investigated the firing incident.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2019