KARACHI: Reminding the authorities that the national interests lie only in the Constitution, the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday rejected the government reports insisting that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) could not be granted permission for holding a public meeting near the Mazar-i-Quaid in view of “security concerns”.

A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi remarked that there was no cogent justification to deny permission.

The bench yet again directed the authorities to decide the application of the PTI within 10 days and file a compliance report. The chief justice said the authorities concerned might consider any other suitable venue with the consent of the petitioner if possible.

At the outset of the hearing on Monday, the home department and deputy commissioner-East filed reports and stated that the permission for a public gathering could not be accorded till the threat was neutralised.

The reports stated that the Sindh police chief had recommended that the permission could not be given due to security concerns.

The chief justice took exception to the repeated stance of the authorities who, he said, were trying their best to stop the PTI from staging the rally while another party had already organised its event on May 2 in the city.

At one point, a visibly irked CJ asked a provincial law officer to file an application if they were seeking a complete ban on the PTI.

He questioned the authorities’ approach towards democracy and observed: “How long such tactic would work?”

The chief justice also warned that the officials who were preparing these reports might face consequences.

Last month, the PTI had moved the SHC after the district and provincial authorities did not entertain its applications seeking permission to hold a public meeting at Bagh-i-Jinnah in front of the Quaid’s mausoleum.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2024

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