SC to take up petition against roadblocks in capital today

Published May 25, 2022
Containers are being placed along Murree Road near Faizabad ahead of PTI’s long march on Wednesday (today). — Photo by Mohammad Asim
Containers are being placed along Murree Road near Faizabad ahead of PTI’s long march on Wednesday (today). — Photo by Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) will be taking up on Wednesday (today) a hurriedly-moved petition seeking removal of roadblocks and barricades and ensuring free movement of residents of the federal capital by restraining authorities from taking any unconstitutional step.

On the other hand, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday advised the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to follow the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court for holding the long march.

Headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan and consisting of Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, the SC bench will hear the petition instituted by Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) President Mohammad Shoaib Shaheen on Tuesday.

Against the backdrop of PTI’s ‘Azadi’ March, which is reaching Islamabad on May 25, the petition sought a direction against interior secretary as well as home secretaries of the four provinces to remove hurdles erected on different highways that restricted the movement of citizens and restrain state agencies and institutions from harassing people and taking any unconstitutional and illegal step.

IHC asks PTI to follow apex court’s guidelines for holding long march

The petition was moved under Article 184(3) of the Constitution after Shoaib Shaheen invited the attention of Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial during a routine hearing in courtroom no. 1 towards difficulties being faced by citizens due to roadblocks as well as police raids on residences of lawyers.

At this the court observed that it could not allow anyone to logjam the city and suggested the counsel to move a petition since the court could not initiate suo motu notice on its own for which it had developed certain guidelines.

The petition was then moved which highlighted that the roads and highways were being blocked by different state institutions or executive authorities making it difficult for senior counsel and advocates to reach the courts and also hindered the movement of citizens, ambulances and doctors.

The petitioner contended that freedom of movement was the fundamental right of every citizen and all executive authorities, state agencies and institutions were bound to abide by the Constitution.

It further said that protesters or participants of the PTI-led ‘Azadi’ March were also bound not to disturb or violate the fundamental rights of other citizens and abide by the provisions of the Constitution and law.

The petition highlighted how it had been reported in the press and electronic media that citizens, including the advocates, parliamentarians and suspected protesters as well as workers of a particular political party, were being arrested and harassed without any reasonable and lawful justification in violation of their fundamental rights, which was illegal, unlawful and contrary to the Constitution.

PTI told to follow SC guidelines

The IHC on Tuesday advised the PTI to follow the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court for holding the long march and also instructed the relevant authorities to do the same to regulate political gatherings in Islamabad.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah did not accept the PTI’s request of passing a blanket order against the arrest of its leadership and activists, however, issued directions that they may not be harassed.

PTI’s additional general secretary Amir Mehmood Kiani had filed a petition before the IHC against the alleged harassment of its workers and sought assurance that they would not be arrested.

Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, appearing on behalf of the petitioner, argued that the government had started a crackdown on PTI activists and was trying to deprive them of their lawful right to assemble and register a peaceful protest.

Justice Minallah remarked that the court could not issue a blanket order against the arrest as it would be tantamount to interference in the executive’s domain.

He, however, asked the government not to harass political workers.

The court also instructed the deputy commissioner and inspector general of police not to harass and deprive citizens of their rights and directed that a sketch prepared to regulate the gathering in the light of the SC directions be submitted.

The court issued notices to the district administration and inspector general of police Islamabad and adjourned further hearing till May 27.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2022

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