A full bench of Lahore High Court LHC on Wednesday sought written replies of two applications of the Punjab government in defence of the new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe in the 2014 Model Town incident.
The bench also directed the petitioners’ counsel to address on October 5, the questions of whether there was any direct order by the apex court for the formation of the JIT and whether a new investigation could be permitted in the present of the trial.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, Justice Aalia Neelum, Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem, Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar, and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh is hearing the petitions challenging the constitution of the JIT by formed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led provincial government.
Several police officials facing trial in the private complaint filed by the PAT had filed petitions in 2019 challenging the legality of the new JIT formed by the Punjab government. On these petitions, a full bench had on March 22, 2019, suspended the notification of the JIT.
On behalf of the provincial government, petitions were filed against this order.
During the hearing of these petitions on Wednesday, Azam Nazir Tarar, the counsel for petitioners, advanced further arguments. He alleged that the government played a fraud with the court by changing its stances as there was no document on the record when the advocate general had given an undertaking before the Supreme Court on December 12, 2019, to form the JIT.
He asserted that the provincial government even failed to furnish any documents regarding the formation of the JIT when asked by the LHC on Jan 20, 2020. He submitted that the government surprisingly came up with a new response before the larger bench in September saying an oral approval had been sought from the cabinet before approving the constitution of the JIT ex post facto (retroactively).
He asserted that the matter was very sensitive as it entailed the death penalty and such fraudulent conduct of the government could not be tolerated. He requested to initiate contempt proceedings against the officers concerned of the Punjab government.
Advocate Azhar Siddique, on behalf of the victims of the incident, raised objections to the arguments of Mt Tarar against the government’s applications.
The bench observed that the court was yet to issue a notice on the applications. The bench observed that it would be appropriate to file his written reply to the government’s applications.
The bench further directed the government’s lawyer to present the record of the JITs constituted in the past at the similar stage of the case in hand.
The bench also directed the law officer of the government to come up with arguments on the ex post facto approval of the JIT and its legal effect.
At least 14 people were killed and 100 others were injured in the firing incident on June 17, 2014, at Lahore’s Model Town.