ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Lahore High Court’s March 2019 order of suspending the Punjab government’s Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to hold a fresh probe into the 2014 Lahore Model Town incident.
But a three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, also expected that the high court which was seized with the matter will decide the case within three months in view of the urgency of the matter.
The Supreme Court, had taken up an appeal of the Punjab government as well as of Jawad Hamid , a private complainant of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), against the March 2019 order of the high court which with a majority decision of two to one had suspended the new JIT formed by the Punjab government.
On June 17, 2014, 10 supporters of the PAT, including some women, lost their lives and several others were injured during a clash between police and supporters and workers of the Minhaj-ul-Quran, an NGO, to remove pickets erected outside the residence of Dr Tahirul Qadri in Model Town, Lahore.
Earlier, the Punjab government had constituted the fresh JIT for the third time when a five-judge Supreme Court on Dec 5, 2018, disposed of a petition seeking re-probe of the Model Town incident after the then advocate general of Punjab Ahmed Awais assured the court that the provincial government had decided to constitute the JIT in terms of Section 19 of the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA).
Then the Supreme Court, headed by then Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, had taken up a petition moved by Bisma Amjad, the daughter of one of the slain persons, Tanzeela.
On Thursday when the case was taken up by the Supreme Court, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan recalled the Dec 5 order and highlighted that all parties in the matter were before the court when the order had been passed.
Justice Ahsan also questioned how the high court could subvert the Supreme Court’s order which was issued by a five-judge bench after hearing all sides and emphasised upon the need of recalling the high court order.
But Justice Sajjad Ali Shah wondered that when a private complaint had already been pending before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), then how the case initiated by the provincial government could proceed.
Advocates Azam Nazeer Tarar and Ashtar Ausaf, who were representing Khurram Rafiq and Rizwan Qadir Hashmi, the two accused police officers, recalled an earlier seven-judge Supreme Court judgement in which it was held that JIT investigation could not be carried on when the matter was already pending before a trial court.
Advocate Ali Zafar, representing Jawad Hamid, argued in the court that the Supreme Court should direct the high court to decide the matter within two weeks, but JIT should continue its investigations at the same time adding that blocking the JIT investigations amounted to mala fide.
Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2020