Plea against order to book Aurat March organisers set aside

Published June 17, 2021
Activists of the Aurat March carry placards as they march during a rally to mark International Women's Day in Islamabad on March 8. — AFP/File
Activists of the Aurat March carry placards as they march during a rally to mark International Women's Day in Islamabad on March 8. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday rejected a petition of several human rights activists challenging a subordinate court’s order for the registration of an FIR against the organisers of Aurat March in Islamabad.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Syed Arshad Ali observed that no cause of action had so far arisen to move the high court as neither the FIR had been registered nor had any action taken against any of the Aurat March organisers.

During hearing, the chief justice expressed annoyance over the slogans displayed on placards and banners by the march organisers and observed that it was not clear on whose agenda such events were held.

The petition was filed by human right activist Nasreen Azhar and several others against the March 26 order of an additional district and session judge for the registration of an FIR against the organisers of the march in Islamabad on the occasion of the International Women’s Day on Mar 8.

PHC to release detailed verdict later

The petitioners had claimed that nothing objectionable had taken place in the Islamabad event.

Additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) Syed Shaukat Ali Shah had accepted a petition filed by lawyers Ibrar Hussain, Israr Hussain and three others under Section 22-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which empowers the court to act as ‘Justice of Peace’ and issue appropriate order in case of non-registration of a criminal case.

The petitioners had claimed in front of the subordinate court that the participants of the Aurat March in Islamabad had passed anti-Islamic remarks and carried objectionable posters.

The ADSJ had ruled: “The contents of the petition constitute a cognisable offence. The local police are under legal obligation to register FIR of the occurrence as per the version of the petitioners.”

He had directed the station house officer (SHO) of East Cantonment police station here to register an FIR against the event as reported by the petitioners under the relevant law.

The high court bench observed that such marches were even not held in European society and the marchers here had crossed all limits.

The chief justice observed that the march’s participants had also raised objectionable slogans, which were not acceptable to the nation.

The counsel for the petitioners contended that as ‘Justice of Peace’, the subordinate court had overstepped its jurisdiction while ordering registration of the FIR against an event which took place in Islamabad.

When the bench asked why the petitioners had approached the high court, the counsel contended that his clients apprehended that adverse action would be taken against them.

He requested the bench to stop the police from acting against the petitioners.

However, the bench observed that no action had so far been taken against the petitioners, so there was no cause of action to file the petition.

Later, the bench pronounced a short order of dismissing the petition. The detailed judgment will be released later.

The petitioners before the subordinate court had alleged that in Islamabad, the participants of the Aurat March had used derogatory remarks against sacred personalities of Muslims beside displaying un-Islamic and obscene posters on the instructions of the organisers, which hurt the feelings and sentiments of the Muslims including the petitioners.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council had also passed two resolutions in its meeting on Mar 15 and had demanded of the government to take action against the organisers and different NGOs which had organized Aurat March in different cities.

The Bar Council had alleged that the participants of the said marches were involved in desecrating holy personalities of Muslims through sloganeering and provocative banners and they deserved to be treated strictly.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2021

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