Court warns JUI-F against blocking roads for public gathering in Islamabad

Published March 27, 2022
Clockwise from top: PTI workers finalise seating arrangements on Parade Ground, containers being placed at Serena Chowk and an official of the district administration offloads barbed wires near H-9 weekly bazaar ahead of the PTI and PDM’s public gatherings in Islamabad. — Photos by Mohammad Asim & Online
Clockwise from top: PTI workers finalise seating arrangements on Parade Ground, containers being placed at Serena Chowk and an official of the district administration offloads barbed wires near H-9 weekly bazaar ahead of the PTI and PDM’s public gatherings in Islamabad. — Photos by Mohammad Asim & Online

• Chief justice directs district magistrate to ensure NOC conditions are enforced
• JUI-F assures capital admin to follow terms
• Maulana Fazl reaches Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday warned the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) against violating conditions of the no-objection certificate (NOC) for holding a public gathering under the banner of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and directed the capital administration to act against violators in accordance with law.

On the other hand, organisers of the JUI-F public gathering assured the capital administration that they would follow the terms and conditions of the NOC in letter and spirit.

In another development, PDM president and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman arrived in Islamabad on Saturday night leading a rally from his hometown Dera Ismail Khan.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah disposed of a petition filed by the deputy commissioner of Islamabad seeking initiation of proceedings against the organisers of the public gathering for violating the NOC’s condition of not obstructing public passages.

The capital administration had on Friday issued a show-cause notice to the JUI-F for planning to set up a stage on Srinagar Highway by blocking the road in violation of the terms and conditions of the NOC.

The notice was issued by Deputy Commissioner (DC) Hamza Shafqaat to the JUI-F Islamabad emir, Maulana Abdul Majeed Hazarvi, asking him to reply within 48 hours otherwise the NOC would be cancelled.

It said according to the terms and conditions, the rally planned by the JUI-F shall not disturb or disrupt fundamental rights of the citizens.

The plan to block Srinagar Highway needs preemptive actions by the district administration to maintain law and order and to protect public rights, it said, adding that hence the organisers were being served with a show-cause notice asking them why the NOC issued for the public gathering may not be cancelled.

“In consequence of the non-compliance of the show-cause notice, the capital administration shall withdraw the NOC of the rally and you shall be responsible for any untoward incident,” the notice said.

It observed: “It is an onerous duty of the district magistrate and the law enforcement agencies to enforce the law. It is their constitutional obligation to take all measures as may be necessary to enforce the conditions explicitly mentioned in the permissions/NOCs.”

The court warned that “any violation or breach would expose the political parties as well as their leadership to the consequences prescribed under the law. The state through the district magistrate and law enforcement agencies shall ensure compliance of the conditional permissions/NOCs and to proceed against the violators in accordance with law regardless of their status and positions.”

The district magistrate, therefore, is directed to ensure that the conditions explicitly mentioned in the permissions/NOCs are enforced and strictly complied with failing which action ought to be taken to remedy the mischief or contravention.

The district magistrate/deputy commissioner had filed the petition for initiating proceedings against the respondents who are organising the JUI-F gathering.

The district magistrate asserted that the JUI-F leaders Maulana Abdul Majeed Hazarvi and others, who were granted permission to hold the public gathering near Peshawar Mor, intended to violate the permission/NOC.

The court observed that maintaining public order was the fundamental duty of the state. Section 31 of the Police Act 1861 declares that it is the duty of the police to keep order on public roads, public streets, thoroughfares and all other places of public resort. It has been unambiguously declared as a duty of the police to prevent obstruction on roads and thoroughfares on the occasion of assemblies and processions.

The IHC chief justice noted that “it is an offence for any person to cause obstruction, inconvenience, annoyance or damage to other citizens. An unlawful assembly, inter alia, includes a common object to commit mischief, resist the execution of any law or of any legal process and it has been made punishable under section 142 of Pakistan Penal Code 1860.”

“It is the duty of every citizen, particularly political parties, to obey the law. All political parties, which have been granted permissions/NOCs, are bound by the conditions mentioned therein. No one is above the law and it is definitely not expected from political parties and public officeholders to resist, breach or in any manner disobey the law and the lawful orders issued by the district magistrate in order to maintain peace and public order,” the court order stated.

After the court order, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry asked the JUI-F to avoid closure of roads. He said the IHC had ordered the administration to keep roads open, therefore, no political party would be allowed to exhibit their power on roads.

Meanwhile, PDM president and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman reached Islamabad on Saturday night leading a rally from his hometown Dera Ismail Khan.

Party workers, who had gathered on Srinagar Highway, received the Maulana with loud slogans.

Talking briefly to reporters, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that caravans from all over the country were on their way to Islamabad for a historic public meeting tomorrow (Monday).

He said the days of the present PTI government were numbered. He, however, evaded a question of reporters whether his party planned to stage a sit-in or would they disperse after the public meeting.

JUI-F assurance to capital admin

The organisers of the JUI-F public gathering on Saturday assured the capital administration that they would follow the terms and conditions of the NOC.

Officials of the capital administration said the assurance was given in response to the show-cause notice and the direction of the IHC.

The officials also said the JUI-F removed fixtures being used to prepare the stage on Srinagar Highway and shifted them to the venue allocated for its public gathering.

The officials told Dawn that separate NOCs for the public gatherings had been issued to the PML-N and JUI-F for March 28.

However, permission sought by the JUI-F for a public gathering on March 27 had been denied. Any public gathering on March 27 in the capital by the JUI-F will be unlawful, the officials said.

The capital police were also asked for a contingency plan to meet any untoward situation. Over 200 containers have been arranged and put at different places and more were being arranged.

Cameras have been installed on Parade Ground and H-9 to monitor the gatherings of the PTI and opposition parties. Besides, a control room has been established in the interior ministry to monitor public gatherings through cameras.

Meanwhile, the capital administration also ordered to close and vacate the metro bus depot in H-9 from March 26 onwards.

An order issued from the office of the deputy commissioner stated that to avoid any untoward incident and to strengthen security and safety of public property/installation during protests/rallies near the metro bus depot, it is requested that the depot at Peshawar Mor may be closed from March 26 till further order.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2022

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