New JIT on PAT request to open Pandora’s box: counsel

Published September 16, 2021
A file photo of the Lahore High Court. — AFP/File
A file photo of the Lahore High Court. — AFP/File

LAHORE: Senior lawyer Azam Nazir Tarar on Wednesday argued before a Lahore High Court larger bench that a Pandora’s box would be opened if a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was allowed at the present stage of the trial proceedings in the Model Town incident on a private complaint of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT).

He said the trial proceedings on the PAT’s FIR were adjourned sine die (without any future date) by the anti-terrorism court on the request of the complainant itself.

“And now the complainant is demanding a fresh investigation into the same trial that was adjourned sine die on his own request,” he said, questioning the intention of the complainant (PAT).

Advocate Tarar was advancing the arguments representing one of the petitioners who assailed the constitution of the new JIT to hold a fresh probe into the Model Town incident.

A full bench had on March 22, 2019, suspended the new JIT.

The counsel argued that the PAT had all the opportunity to get an ‘independent’ investigation ordered by the trial court in the private complaint it filed being dissatisfied with the trial. However, he said, the complainant did not avail that opportunity.

“If the government was of [PAT’s] opponents, the courts were very much there that belong to everyone,” the counsel argued in response to an observation of the bench that the complainant might have no trust in the then government.

Tarar cited several judgments of the Supreme Court to establish that fresh investigation could not be ordered after the submission of challan in a case.

Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan, a member of the bench, observed that there were also judgments permitting fresh investigation at any stage.

The counsel said his point was that the complainant could not demand a new investigation after the submission of challan and recording of more than half of the witnesses in its own private complaint.

Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, who headed the bench, observed that the Supreme Court had condoned a delay of more than eight years while allowing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to challenge his conviction in the plane hijacking case. Advocate Tarar said the matter of Nawaz was of an appeal against the conviction and there were numerous cases whereby the courts condoned delays of even ten years in challenging the convictions.

In a bid to establish mala fide on part of the government as well, the counsel pointed out that the advocate general failed to furnish before a previous bench any document about the formation of the JIT on multiple hearings. And now the government produced a document claiming that the cabinet approved the constitution of the new JIT ex-post-facto (done, made, or formulated after the fact) as initially it was formed through verbal permission, he said.

Accusing the government of tampering with the record, he urged the bench to take notice of it.

The counsel argued that nothing new would happen in case of the new investigation, but wastage of time and the satisfaction of the complainant’s ego, as the trial court and the high court had dismissed the plea to try the political personalities belonging to the PML-N.

He further argued that permitting a new investigation at this stage of the case would amount to allowing a policeman to undo all orders of the courts.

The seven-member bench will hear more arguments of the petitioner’s counsel on Thursday (today).

Barrister Syed Ali Zafar and Advocate Azhar Siddique, the counsel for the PAT, were also present in the court.

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.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2021

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