ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Wednesday ordered the chief commissioner to provide an alternative place to PTI for its “Azadi March” in Islamabad.
A three-member bench of the SC headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, took up the petition filed by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA).
The Pakistan Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ordered the chief commissioner to offer an alternate location for the PTI’s “Azadi March” in Islamabad.
The petition was heard by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Ijazul Ahsan and including Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi (IHCBA).
It is worth noting that Islamabad’s government previously denied the PTI’s proposal to organise a sit-in on the Srinagar Highway and blocked all roads going to the federal capital.
During the hearing, Justice Ijazul Ahsan directed the chief commissioner to provide the PTI an alternative location for its public meeting and to make a report to the Supreme Court on the matter after negotiating with the party’s leadership.
Following a brief recess, PTI attorney Babar Awan arrived in court and informed the judges that Imran Khan had appointed him, Aamer Kiani, Faisal Chaudhry, and Ali Nawaz Awan as negotiators on his behalf.
The attorney general informed the Supreme Court that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has also instructed the formation of a negotiation committee comprised of ministries. He insisted that he would inform the court once he had more information on the team.
Justice Ahsan asked Babar Awan to inform the court on the length of the party’s protest. The judge stated that the court would guarantee that its judgement is carried out and will request an affidavit in this respect.
Meanwhile, the hearing was adjourned for one hour by the court.
Earlier, Justice Ahsan asked the chief commissioner of Islamabad to create a traffic plan for the PTI public meeting.
During the hearing, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi asked the interior secretary and the Inspector General of Police in Islamabad to change their policies. Justice Naqvi told IG Islamabad that various cases and allegations had already been filed against him.
“Stay inside your bounds,” the judge said, advising him to “realise and fulfil” his obligations.
“Give us names if the PTI is afraid of being arrested,” Justice Ijazul Ahsan said, adding that they will make orders to prevent the government from detaining them. “The Supreme Court must safeguard everyone,” the judge stated.
The Supreme Court ordered the PTI’s attorney to notify them after consulting with the party’s leadership. Justice Ijazul Ahsan stated that citizens should not be put in danger as a result of internal feuds.
In defending the government’s decision to deny the PTI’s request for a sit-in on the Srinagar Highway, the attorney general stated, citing intelligence agency sources, that there was a danger of a suicide attempt on Imran Khan.
“Do the police take the leaders and workers into protective custody during the raids?” Justice Ahsan inquired.
“If the government has a problem with the Srinagar Highway, why is Lahore, Sargodha, and the rest of the country closed?” enquired the judge
The IHCBA president responded by saying that the entire country was blocked to prevent one road from being closed.
According to Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, the administration should offer a comprehensive strategy to avoid traffic closures due to demonstrations.
Justice Ahsan ordered the local government to produce a condensed protest strategy.
In a letter to the home secretary, Justice Munib Akhtar stated that if the political leadership faces threats simply on the Srinagar Highway, would he accept responsibility for what is happening in the country?
The interior secretary said that provinces are responsible for ensuring law and order.
At this point, Justice Ahsan inquired as to who provided the security threat report.
The interior secretary informed the court that “two intelligence agencies and the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) presented information concerning the security danger.”
At the start of today’s session, Justice Ijazul Ahsan stated that an emergency has been declared at all hospitals in Islamabad, with schools and public transportation shut down.
“The country is on the edge of bankruptcy and is going through a critical economic moment,” the judge said.
At this point, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf urged that the court refrain from making economic observations.
“Will every demonstration shut down the entire country?” enquired the judge
The attorney general responded that he was unaware of the specifics and requested more time to obtain them.
“Are you uninformed of the circumstances in your country?” the judge inquired.
“You are repeating media stories concerning school closures. “Every report in the media is false,” Ashtar Ausaf contended.
The administration has sent notices concerning the postponing of test papers and the closure of schools, according to Justice Mazahar Naqvi.
The attorney general stated that he was opposed to roadblocks, but the actions were done because a party threatened to stage a “bloody march.”
Justice Ahsan ordered that authorities establish a strategy for demonstrators to arrive quietly and return home after recording their protest.
The judge demanded assurances from officials that there would be no violence and that the highways would not be closed.
The attorney general proposed that all political parties sit down and sign a charter of mutual respect.
At this point, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi stated that it was your obligation as rulers to break the ice.
“Raids on people’s homes are against the law,” said Justice Ahsan.
Meanwhile, the court postponed the hearing until 2:30 p.m.
In their appeal, the IHCBA stated that various state institutions and administrative authorities were “preventing” advocates, citizens, ambulances, and physicians from reaching their destinations by blocking roads and highways.
According to the appeal, the attorneys were also delayed on highways and roads for extended periods of time, rendering them “unable to reach” the Supreme Court, depriving individuals of their fundamental rights and impeding “access to justice.”
“Freedom of movement is a fundamental right of every citizen of Pakistan, and all executive authorities, state agencies, state institutions, and the government, as well as all provinces and public functionaries, are bound to obey the Constitution and exercise their powers within the four corners of the provisions of the Constitution and law,” the petition stated.
The attorneys’ group also highlighted published reports claiming that lawyers, lawmakers, and employees of one political party were being detained and harassed for no rational or legal cause. It said that violations of people’ fundamental rights were “illegal, unconstitutional, and opposed to the provisions of the Constitution.”
The petition said that the petition was submitted to “defend basic rights granted by the Constitution.”
The IHCBA has petitioned the Supreme Court to order the government to “unblock the roads and highways and not to obstruct residents’ movements.”
It also requested the Supreme Court to order the government not to engage in “any unconstitutional and criminal action or harassment of citizens.”