LAHORE: A Lahore High Court larger bench on Tuesday resumed hearing of petitions filed against the formation of a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) by the Punjab government for conducting a fresh probe into the 2014 Model Town incident.
As the seven-member bench assembled with Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti in the head chair, Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar and Barrister Syed Ali Zafar appeared on behalf of the petitioners and the families of the incident’s victims, respectively.
Chief Justice Bhatti observed that the bench would hear the petitions afresh, as he was not a part of the bench previously seized with the matter.
Advocate Tarar requested the bench to hear the case on a daily basis for three days as he was scheduled to visit Moscow as an election observer on Sept 17.
The bench initially asked Barrister Zafar to start his arguments on the point of the maintainability of the petitions. However, the bench later decided to hear arguments of Advocate Tarar, the petitioners’ counsel, first on the question of the maintainability.
To different queries of the bench’s members, Tarar said the affectees of the incident had not joined the proceedings before the first JIT made by the police.
He said the trial proceedings in the state FIR of the incident came to a halt after the Pakistan Awami Party (PAT) filed a private complaint before the trial court. He said the suspects/petitioners were indicted in the private complaint on April 12, 2018, and 86 witnesses had testified so far.
The counsel said the application filed by Bisma Amjad, daughter of a deceased woman, before the Supreme Court had no prayer for the formation of a new JIT. However, he said, the government undertook before the court to constitute a new JIT, which was notified on Jan 3, 2019.
He argued that the criminal as well as anti-terrorism laws had no provision for fresh investigation into an incident.
The bench will resume hearing on Wednesday (today).
Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Justice Aalia Neelum, Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem, Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh are the other members of the bench.
Khurram Rafiq and several other police officials facing trial in the private complaint submitted by the PAT had filed the petitions in 2019, challenging the legality of the new JIT formed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led provincial government.
A full bench had on March 22, 2019, suspended the new JIT.
Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2021