KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday warned police and the district administration of legal consequences on a plea seeking contempt proceedings against the authorities for blocking Sir Shah Suleman Road near the National Stadium during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches in defiance of an earlier court order.

Led by Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, a two-judge bench directed the officials to come up with comments on Tuesday (today) after they requested for time to file a joint statement.

When the bench took up for hearing an application filed by a petitioner seeking contempt proceedings against the officials for violating a recent order of the SHC, the DIG-traffic was found absent and a reply filed on his behalf stated that he had communicated the court order to the officials concerned for the compliance.

Expressing resentment over his absence and closure of Sir Shah Suleman Road despite an undertaking filed by police, the chief justice directed the DIG and other officials to appear in court immediately.

Contempt application filed against police, local administration officials for defying earlier court order

Thereafter, DIG Iqbal Dara, along with some officials, appeared in court and submitted that the traffic police had not closed the road in question. The DIG-operations informed the court that the road was blocked due to security reasons.

The chief justice remarked that the entire city had been put at stake on the pretext of security concerns and advised the officials that the traffic on roads adjacent to the stadium might be stopped only when the teams arrived or left the ground.

He asked the officials present in court to file written statement/undertaking that no road would be closed without any cogent reason.

The chief justice said that he was very disappointed with the replies of the officials concerned despite the fact that the court had passed a very clear order on the subject matter.

He also stated that fortunately people still had faith in judiciary and warned that the public might take to streets if they could not get justice from courts.

He directed the officials to ensure that the subject road must not be blocked.

A provincial law officer, along with other officials present in the courtroom, requested the bench to grant time to file a joint statement on the behalf of the officials concerned.

The owner of a supermarket had petitioned the SHC on Feb 20, submitting that the store was located on Sir Shah Suleman Road and during the PSL as well as international cricket matches at the stadium, the authorities used to block the thoroughfare in question along with adjacent service roads in the past and set to do so during the ongoing PSL.

On Feb 27, the bench disposed of the petition after a statement filed on behalf of the DIG-traffic assured it that the road in question would not be blocked during the matches of 9th edition of the PSL to be held in the city.

The DIG-traffic had submitted that a meeting about the PSL was held under the chairmanship of Sindh police chief at Central Police Office wherein it was decided that Sir Shah Suleman Road would not be closed during the PSL matches in the provincial metropolis.

However, the petitioners filed an application seeking contempt proceedings against the DIG and DC for not complying with the Feb 29 order of the SHC and stated that on March 3, the alleged contemnors blocked the road in question as well as streets and lanes leading to the main road for three to four hours before the start of the match and blockades were not removed even after the match ended.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2024

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