Model Town case: Govt chastised over delay in submitting JIT record

Updated 04 Jul 2020

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Bench says it had been eight months but the government failed to prepare a complete report. — INP/File
Bench says it had been eight months but the government failed to prepare a complete report. — INP/File

LAHORE: A Lahore High Court (LHC) seven-judge larger bench on Friday expressed displeasure over the provincial government for not submitting the complete record of the second joint investigation team (JIT) constituted by the PTI government in Punjab to hold a fresh probe into the 2014 Model Town incident.

Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan headed the bench with Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Justice Aalia Neelum, Justice Sardar Sarfraz Dogar, Justice Asjad Javed Ghural and Justice Farooq Haider.

Punjab Chief Secretary Jawad Rafiq Malik, Additional Secretary Home Mubashir Zaidi, Acting-Advocate General Shan Gul, Prosecutor General Punjab Arif Kamal Noon appeared before the bench.

Advocates Azam Nazir Tarar and Burhan Moazzam Malik appeared to represent Khurram Rafiq and other police officials who challenged the legitimacy of the second JIT.

Barrister Syed Ali Zafar and Advocate Azhar Siddique were also present on behalf of the victims of the incident and workers of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT).

The government officials submitted the record of the JIT; however, the bench found it incomplete and expressed serious displeasure over the conduct of the authorities.

The bench observed that it had been eight months but the government failed to prepare a complete report.

Advocate Tarar told the bench that one of the senior lawyers of the petitioners, Advocate Zahid Bokhari, was not available due to health reasons. He said Mr Bokhari had tested positive for the Covid-19 and was admitted to hospital. He requested the bench to adjourn hearing and pointed out that not a single adjournment had been sought from the petitioners’ side during the one year.

Chief Justice Khan allowed the request and observed that the hearing would be held after summer vacation on Sept 9. He said the bench would decide the matter without any further delay by holding day-to-day hearing.

The bench gave the last opportunity to the government to submit the complete record relating to the JIT.

On June 17, 2014, at least 14 people were killed and 100 were injured when police opened fire to disperse protesting activists of PAT during an ‘anti-encroachment’ operation outside the residence of its chairman Dr Tahirul Qadri.

The PAT had filed a private complaint before an anti-terrorism court against the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, then chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and almost all federal and provincial cabinet of the PML-N besides officials of police and district administration accusing them of killing its workers.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2020