LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti on Friday posed a query to a provincial law officer and the lawyers of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) whether the provincial government could form a second joint investigation team (JIT) in the same case as the law permitted one by it.

The chief justice further asked the lawyers to assist the bench on a point whether an order could have a binding effect if both parties consented to something that was against the law.

Justice Bhatti is heading a seven-judge larger bench seized with the petitions against the formation of a new JIT by the Punjab government to hold a fresh probe into the 2014 Model Town incident.

Some police officials facing trial in a private complaint by the PAT had filed the petitions in 2019.

Additional Advocate General (AAG) Akhtar Javed opened his arguments against the maintainability of the petitions, saying the only remedy for the petitioners was to seek a review of the Supreme Court order issued on Dec 5, 2018 wherein the government had given an undertaking to form the JIT in question. He said the petitioners did not avail that remedy and challenged the notification of the JIT before the LHC.

Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan, another member of the bench, asked how they could assail the impugned notification before its issuance.

AAG Javed stated that a five-member larger bench was constituted to decide the application of an aggrieved woman as the SC had found many important legal questions in it.

He said the present petitioners were also put on notice by the apex court.

However, he had no answer when Justice Khan asked him whether the larger bench addressed the legal questions or introduced any new law.

During the hearing, Justice Aalia Neelum also cautioned the law officer against wrongly interpreting the SC order.

Advocate Khwaja Tariq Rahim, a counsel for PAT, argued that the application of the woman, Bisma Amjad, was disposed of by the SC as ‘borne fruit’, which meant the court had allowed the prayer of the applicant.

However, the lawyer said he would advance his detailed arguments on the point of “borne fruit” on his turn.

Chief Justice Bhatti asked him to also apprise the bench about the legitimacy of the second JIT by the provincial government as the federal government had the power to do so.

The bench adjourned further hearing till Oct 20 as Barrister Ali Zafar, another counsel for PAT, was scheduled to represent Pakistan in a conference in Turkey during the next week.

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 larger bench.

Published in Dawn, October 9th, 2021

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