LHC orders Punjab govt to remove containers

Advocate General says security plan advertised for information of public

LAHORE – A Lahore High Court full bench on Wednesday ordered the Punjab government to remove containers/barriers placed to block roads in the province.

The bench comprising Justice Mahmood Ahmad Bhatti, Justice Arshad Mahmood Tabassum and Justice Ch Muhammad Masood Jahangir passed the short order while allowing a petition filed by Gohar Nawaz Sindhu, a member of the Insaf Lawyers Forum, and an intra court appeal by Muhammad Alamgir against arrest of PTI workers and containers/barriers placed across the province.

Earlier, the petitioner's counsel arguing before the court submitted that the people were being affected due to containers installed to block roads across the province. He pointed out that many wedding processions, patients and others were facing problems as a result of roads' closure. He said that the step was a violation of fundamental rights including freedom of movement.

He pleaded the court to issue directions for removal of barriers. To a court query, Advocate General Punjab (AGP) Muhammad Hanif Khatana produced a document/notification of police authorities for installing barriers to secure life of ordinary people. To another court query about containers in Model Town area, the AGP replied that residents could come and go in area.

However, the bench observed that the police orders were a sort of internal arrangement and it could not be held as an order. The court observed as to how these orders were communicated to general public. The AGP replied that the plan was advertised in all newspapers for information of public. He further said that all fundamental rights were subject to reasonable restrictions whereas there were threats to life of Dr Tahir ul Qadri.

The court observed that if there were threats to Dr Tahir ul Qadri then arrangements should be made for his security instead of closing the area. However, the AGP replied that the government was taking all steps in the public interest as there were apprehensions of terrorism. He further said that Pakistan Awami Tehreek sit-in was all also causing problems for residents of the area. He said that these sit-ins were being observed to dislodge an elected government.

Ahmad Owais, counsel for another petitioner, said that the PTI was agitating within constitutional limits against alleged rigging. He contended that fundamental rights of people were affected due to installation of containers. Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Sukhera told the court that district police officers had ordered to install containers/barriers in their respective districts as per police rules in the prevailing circumstances.

The bench questioned AGP that why PTI was not being allowed to protest if they were peaceful. The AGP replied that they wanted to topple the elected government. The bench after hearing arguments of all parties announced a short order for removal of containers in the province.

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