PTI asks SC to set aside verdict on 2017 Faizabad sit-in

Updated April 12, 2019

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A TLP protesters throws a tear gas shell back towards police during a clash in Islamabad on Nov 25, 2017. ─ AFP/File
A TLP protesters throws a tear gas shell back towards police during a clash in Islamabad on Nov 25, 2017. ─ AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) requested the Supreme Court on Thursday to set aside its Feb 6 verdict on the 2017 Faizabad sit-in by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), accusing the author judge of being ‘biased’.

Federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed also approached the SC, seeking deletion of his name from the judgement on the November 2017 TLP sit-in which had paralysed the life in Rawalpindi and Islamabad for 20 days.

“The learned author judge has had such an extreme conviction about the 2014 PTI-PAT dharna at Islamabad and the role of the petitioner and its members that he dragged in the reference of the 2014 sit-in into the matter,” alleged a petition moved by PTI secretary general Arshad Dad through his counsel Barrister Syed Ali Zafar. “Thus the petitioner has a reasonable apprehension that the author judge was allegedly biased,” the petition contended.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa, a member of the two-judge SC bench, had made strong observations and issued directives in the judgement he had authored on Feb 6.

Read:10 major takeaways from today's verdict

Sheikh Rashid seeks deletion of his name from the same judgement

The PTI petition contended that the judgement made a reference to the 2014 PTI-Pakistan Awami Tehreek sit-in and then went on to observe that those responsible for it got off scot-free and were now in high places or positions of public office without any determination of facts or available material on the record.

It said the conviction of the author judge against the petitioner was one-sided and extreme which allegedly led to inescapable conclusion that the judge was biased. The petition cited the 1989 Mohammad Akram Sheikh case in which it was held that judges of the superior courts should refrain from sitting on the bench deciding cases in which there was even the slightest apprehension that they might be considered to be biased.

The petition contended that since the alleged bias had tainted the entire judgement, it had become impossible to expunge any part of the verdict. Thus the entire verdict should be recalled and set aside, the petition pleaded.

Citing the code of conduct of the judges, the petition argued that the author judge stood disqualified to remain a judge of the superior courts since he had allegedly violated Article III of the code, which suggested that judges should be above reproach, and to keep his conduct in all things, official and private, free from impropriety.

Read more: How ordinary citizens make their way through Faizabad during the sit-in

“The verdict in question was premised on conjecture, surmise and presumption since no facts have been determined and on what basis the sweeping observations have been made was a mystery,” the petition said, adding: “The verdict has made scathing comments on morality, politics and religion despite unambiguous and explicitly stating the limits of the jurisdiction and judicial power exercisable under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.’’

Sheikh Rashid’s plea

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid approached the Supreme Court to seek deletion of his name from the Feb 6 judgement. His review petition moved through Advocate Amanullah Kanrani said: “It is therefore, respectfully prayed that the civil review petition against the impugned order of Feb 6, 2019 ……may kindly be allowed to the extent of deletion of para 4 of the judgement showing presence of the petitioner in Dharna by TLP in the interest of justice.”

The judgement had mentioned the names of Awami Muslim League chairman Sheikh Rashid, Ejazul Haq of the PML-Z, PTI’s Ulema Wing Islamabad and PPP’s Sheikh Hameed Ahmed.

In his petition, Sheikh Rashid pleaded that if the words concerning him in para-4 of the judgement were not deleted/expunged, he would suffer adversely in his life, reputation, etc. He said that for him values, morality, politics and religion were of foremost importance, whether he was in government or outside it. He argued that he was not a protester and never obstructed people’s right to use roads or damage or destroy property.

In his entire political and social career, he had promoted peace and tranquility in the country, the petition argued, adding that he was never involved in nefarious and unlawful functions.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2019