LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday summoned the Punjab chief secretary, all the commissioners in the province and the chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) in a matter relating to the strike/protest by public servants in support of a former assistant commissioner of Sahiwal, who was got handcuffed by a civil judge for defying a judicial order.
Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan also ordered the Pemra to identify, with the support of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), the protesters who were allegedly holding placards and banners inscribed with “contemptuous” slogans at the protest.
Sahiwal’s ex-AC Muhammad Haider was also present in the court, besides other government officials, when the chief justice took up a petition against the reported strike and the protest by the public servants, allegedly against the judiciary.
“You reportedly claimed to shut the courts,” the CJ asked the AC who denied having made any such claim. “I cannot even think of this,” Mr Haider replied.
The CJ also took exception to the language of an affidavit filed on behalf of Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Information Dr Firdaus Ashiq Awan.
He resolved to settle the issue one and for all whether the executive was supposed to obey the orders of the judiciary or vice-versa.
Additional Advocate General Asif Bhatti said he was ready to apologise if the court found some words in the affidavit improper. However, the chief justice hinted at initiating contempt proceedings against the special assistant.
On the previous hearing, the CJ had observed that a press statement given by Ms Awan on the Sahiwal issue was unnecessary and ordered the law officer to seek an affidavit from her.
Meanwhile, the legal adviser to the Pemra told the court that notices had been issued to several television channels for airing “contemptuous material” with regard to the Sahiwal episode.
The chief justice also doubted the government’s version about the strike/protest by officials and directed the Pemra to furnish television channels’ record of the coverage of the protests.
The hearing was adjourned for Jan 27.
Civil Judge Muhammad Naeem, now transferred from Sahiwal, had summoned Assistant Commissioner Haider, who now also stood transferred, in a case related to encroachments in the city.
The officer, however, failed to appear before the court despite several notices and the civil judge finally issued warrants for his arrest. The AC, reportedly, got into a heated argument with the judge when he made his appearance in the court. At this, the judge ordered his staff to detain the AC and handcuff him before shifting him to jail.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2021