LAHORE: A full bench of the Lahore High Court on Thursday issued the nine-page detailed order to restrain the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) from taking out the Azadi March and Inqilab March respectively.
The bench comprising Justice Khalid Mehmood Khan, Justice Shahid Hameed Dar and Justice Anwarul Haq observed that any violation of the constitution by the protesters and their leaders would expose them to the legal consequences.The bench also held that the demands rose by the chairman PTI Imran Khan and chairman PAT are in violation of the constitution.
The bench directed the petitioner and respondents to file a written statement and necessary documents if any until September 12.
Earlier, the bench had gone through Imran Khan’s interview, which he gave to a private TV channel.
Muhammad Kamran, chairman of Move on Pakistan, had filed the petition. He said that the PTI and PAT had decided to take to the streets on Independence Day.
Four demands of the two parties are: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should step down; parliament should be dissolved; the election commission should be re-constituted and interim government of technocrats should be formed and fresh election should be held.
The petitioner’s counsel said that Imran Khan had warned of shutting down the entire country if any attempt was made to put him under house arrest. He said that both Imran and Qadri were warning the police and administration of dire consequences by saying, “If any of my workers is tortured or harassed, the Punjab police will not get a place to hide.”
He said that both the party heads were inviting the people to topple the government by announcing that revolution does not usher in without making sacrifices. Both of them have further urged the people exterminate the Sharifs in case of any damage to them.
The counsel said further that the country had suffered a huge financial loss and its economy was going to a dead end day by day and the stock exchange has suffered losses worth billions of rupees in three days. He requested the court to restrain the PTI and PAT from taking out rallies. He also requested that the government should be ordered to take measures to improve law and order.
The bench had issued notices to both the party leaders. Imran Khan’s lawyer Ahmad Awais told the bench that long march was their democratic right enshrined in the constitution. He claimed that no clog could be put against the fundamental rights of the political parties as well as the individuals of the country.To a question about demands of the PTI, he said the PTI wanted fresh general elections as the Nawaz-led government came to power through massive rigging.
The attorney general of Pakistan submitted his written statement, “The present government is a duly elected government under the constitution with a mandate of 190 seats out of 342 seats. The prime minister was elected by 244 votes out of total poll of 294 votes and enjoys confidence of the house. Therefore the question of resignation not arises.”
“The prime minister invited Imran Khan and his leadership with open mind and heart any time today or tomorrow for a dialogue if they are not willing to come then we are willing to see them at a place and time of their choice subject to their calling off the march,” the statement read.
Advocate A K Dogar appeared on behalf of the Lawyers Foundation for Justice and said that the federal government was formed as a result of general elections held on May 11, 2013 and under the constitution, election once held could not be called in question except through election petitions. He submitted that Article 225 of the constitution provided that no election would be called in question except by an election petition.
He submitted that Imran Khan was part of parliament and provincial assembly and he was bound to remain loyal and faithful to the state being a lawmaker.
He argued that Article 16 of the constitution was subject to reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order. He submitted, the state was duty bound to protect the life and property of its citizens and if the political party refused to talk and resort to street agitation, it will be deemed to operating in a manner prejudicial to the integrity of the Pakistan.
He submitted that Allama Tahirul Qadri and his party was a group of insurgents and legal action was required against. The attorney general also referred to Imran Khan’s July 4 interview in which the PTI chairman had offered that in case the federal government orders for inspection and auditing of four constituencies of the National Assembly under the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) and the commission so appointed ifcompletes the process within two weeks, he would call off the long march or sit-in. He also referred to the address of the prime minister to the nation on August 12 and submitted that the PM has already requested the CJP to form a commission consisting of three Supreme Court judge to ascertain: “Whether the allegations levelled by the chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, that the general elections of 2013 were manipulated or influenced by anyone for the benefit of a political party or individuals, have any basis in fact or law, and if so, to fix responsibility thereof.”
The attorney general said that Imran Khan’s demands of Imran were not legitimate but for the sake of the country the federal government has accepted the same and now the PTI chairman was bound to call off the long march. He also submitted that Dr Qadri was alien to parliament and was trying to launch a violent protest.
Regarding maintainability of the petition, the attorney general relied on the Supreme Court judgments and said the bench could not ignore the aftermath of the sit-in. He said that it was the duty of the court to interfere for protection of human rights. Counsel for Imran Khan and Dr Qadri submitted that their parties were ready to ensure that the protests would be peaceful and violence-free.
The attorney general said that Imran Khan had categorically said that if four constituencies of the National Assembly were opened for vote verification he would call off the long march.
He said the PM had accepted this demand but Imran Khan had turned down the offer. He said Imran Khan should be issued a contempt of court notice for saying that the commission would not be able to perform independently in the PM’s presence.
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