LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday turned down a request to restrain the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) from holding its meeting at Minar-i-Pakistan on Dec 13.

“This is the administrative and policy issue and is not justifiable, hence no interference is required by this court,” Justice Jawad Hassan ruled deciding two identical petitions against the PDM meeting.

The judge also observed that the petitioners had no locus standi to agitate the matter as their fundamental rights to life as guaranteed under the constitution had not been infringed due to rallies/meetings to be arranged by the political parties.

“The petitioners are not political workers and neither intend to attend any political meeting, therefore, there is no possibility of petitioners being infected by Covid-19. So they have no locus standi to file these petitions,” the judge remarked in his 14-page verdict.

On behalf of the Punjab government, Additional Advocate General Barrister Umair Khan Niazi also challenged the locus standi of the petitioners and said they did not approach the authority concerned before knocking on the door of the court.

Petitioners don’t intend to attend any political meeting, judge remarks

He said the LHC had already passed two judgments on the issue of Covid-19, by holding that the SOPs issued by the relevant authorities were binding on every citizen to control the pandemic.

The law officer told the court that an application had been filed with the deputy commissioner of Lahore on behalf of the PDM to hold the public meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan on Dec 13. He said subsequent permission may be granted and an NOC may also be issued for the same.

He said the District Intelligence Committee also recommended the government that NOC may not be issued for holding a public meeting at Minar-i-Pakistan.

Justice Hassan observed that in order to secure fundamental rights, every citizen had to adhere to the SOPs issued from time to time by the government which were binding on them under the doctrine of sovereignty.

However, the judge noted that article 16 of the Constitution clearly depicted that every citizen shall have the right to assemble peacefully and without arms, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of public order.

Therefore, he said, the administration had to consider the provisions of the relevant laws --Punjab Infectious Diseases (Prevention and Control) Act, 2020 and Civil Administration Act, 2017---in this situation before passing any order.

However, the judge directed the government functionaries to ensure strict observance of decisions of the authorities concerned and SOPs laid down by the NCOC and the federal and Punjab governments.

With these directions, the judge disposed of the petitions filed by Harris Bin Hassan and Nadeem Sarwar, both lawyers.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2020

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