LHC endorses murder case order against PM and CM

* Court dismisses petitions by four ministers over failure to establish their case * Judge directs police to complete investigations before arresting any person

LAHORE: Justice Mahmood Maqbool Bajwa of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday endorsed the sessions court’s order wherein the Lahore police was directed to lodge a murder case on the application of Minhajul Quran Secretariat against 21 federal and provincial authorities, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, over the deaths in police-protester clash in Model Town, Lahore in June.
Bajwa on Tuesday dismissed petitions of four ministers – Federal Minister for Information Pervez Rasheed, Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq and State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali – observing that the petitioners had failed to establish their case. He directed the police to complete its investigation before arresting any person named in the application of the Minhajul Quran. 
Bajwa said that the petitions had no force on legal or factual grounds. Turning down the petitioners’ request, he observed, “Purpose and object of recording FIR is to set the criminal law in motion and to obtain first-hand information of occurrence in order to exclude possibility of fabrication of story or consultation or deliberation and to safeguard the accused of such happenings.” He added, “Thus the registration of FIR against the petitioners shall not prove their guilt till decision by a court of competent jurisdiction.” 
About the arrest of the accused, the judge said that inquiry as to the correctness or otherwise of allegations is not required to be made prior to the registration of an FIR, although a degree of care and caution is required while proceeding under Section 22-A(6) of The Act V of 1898. 
He noted that it is the job of the investigation officer to collect evidence in order to reach a conclusion regarding veracity or falsity of the allegations referred to in the crime report. “Arrest of a suspect or an accused is not necessary during the course of investigation and the general impression in this regard is misconceived because a person named in the FIR is not to be arrested straightaway upon registration of FIR or as a matter of course unless there is sufficient incriminating evidence regarding culpability of accused.” 
Justice Bajwa said the arrest of the accused is to be deferred until the availability of incriminating evidence in order to satisfy the investigation officer regarding correctness of allegations levelled by the complainant against the person named in the crime report. He also turned down the request for the constitution of a larger bench to determine the legality and binding force under which the sessions judge working as ex-officio justice of peace ordered registration of a case. 
These ministers moved a petition challenging the sessions court order on the petition of Jawad Hamid, director administration of the secretariat. During the hearing on Tuesday, Punjab Advocate General Muhammad Hanif Khatana challenged the trial court’s order and submitted that the impugned order was issued without viewing the investigation reports of the joint investigation team and police. He said the petition was moved by Jawad Hamid for lodging of a case and it was politically motivated and based on misconception. 
PAT chief Tahirul Qadri on Monday said “I am giving a 48-hour deadline to dissolve all the assemblies... authorities should let the FIR of Model Town incident in which 14 of our supporters were killed be registered, and make public the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report. After 48 hours, I will not be responsible for any action of the crowd present in the sit-in for the last 12 days.” 

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