A full bench of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday resumed hearing of petitions against the formation of a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) by the Punjab government for a fresh probe into the 2014 Model Town incident and partially heard the arguments of petitioners counsel.
Khurram Rafiq and several other police officials facing trial in the private complaint filed by the PAT had filed the petitions in 2019 challenging the legality of the new JIT formed by the Punjab government. A full bench had on March 22, 2019, suspended the new JIT. On June 17, 2014, at least 14 people were killed and 100 others injured in this tragedy.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan, Justice Aalia Neelum, Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem, Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar, and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh partially heard the arguments of a petitioner counsel and postponed the hearing for Wednesday (today).
As proceedings commenced, Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti observed that the bench would hear the petitions afresh as he was not a part of the bench previously seized with the matter.
Bench initially asked Barrister Zafar to start his arguments on the point of the maintainability of the petitions but other counsel Azim Nazir Tarrar requested the bench to hear the case on a daily basis for three days as he was scheduled to visit Moscow as an election observer on September 17.
The bench accepted his request and asked Mr. Tarar to make his submissions on the maintainability of these petitions.
Mr. Tarrar submitted that the affectees of this incident had not joined the proceedings before the first JIT was announced on behalf of the police. He said the trial proceedings in the state FIR of the incident came to halt after the Pakistan Awami Party (PAT) filed a private complaint before the trial court.
He said the suspects/petitioners were indicted in the private complaint on April 12, 2018, and 86 witnesses had testified so far. He asserted that Bisma Amjad, daughter of a deceased woman, moved an application before the Supreme Court of Pakistan in which she never requested for the formation of a new JIT.
He submitted that the government undertook before the court to constitute a new JIT, which was notified on Jan 3, 2019, and there was no need for a new JIT, which had completed its investigation. He asserted that criminal law and anti-terrorism had no provision for a fresh investigation of an incident.
Mr. Tarrar was on his feet when the bench deferred the further hearing for a day.
The bench would resume hearing on Wednesday (today).
What is Model Town incident?
The Model Town operation aka Model Town ‘tragedy’ or the Lahore ‘massacre’, was a violent clash that ensued between the Punjab Police and Pakistan Awami Tehreek activists on 17 June 2014 resulting in several protesters being killed allegedly by the police gunfire. Five police officers remain under arrest.
The standoff lasted for almost 11 hours when the police’s anti-encroachment squad launched an operation to remove the barriers from the road leading to the offices of Minhaj-ul-Quran and the residence of PAT founder Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri in Model Town, Lahore, even though police officials were given a court order by PAT leaders, stating “due to terrorism issue place security barriers in front of Minhaj-ul-Quran and the residence of PAT founder Dr.Qadri.