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Model Town Tragedy: Punjab Government challenges LHC decision dissolving the JIT

Pakistan shook when protesters lost their lives in Model Town, Lahore incident. Supreme Court of Pakistan made a JIT to probe the case but recently LHC passed a judgment to dissolve the JIT which Punjab govt. has challenged saying a JIT formed by SC cannot be dissolved by a lower court.

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News Analysis |

Punjab government has challenged the full court decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) regarding the suspension of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in connection with model town tragedy. The verdict was challenged by the Punjab advocate general on the approval of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.

Earlier in April, the LHC had ordered the new JIT to halt the probe and annulled the notification of its constitution regarding the Model Town incident. In March the LHC dissolved the JIT probing the case.

The Punjab government has now argued the JIT was constituted on the directions of the SC and that the LHC cannot stop it from working.

A deadly clash took place on 17 June 2014 where several members of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) got killed by the indiscriminate use of force by the Punjab police.

On December 5, 2018, the Supreme Court had ordered the Punjab government to form a new joint investigation team (JIT) in the Model Town case. A five-member bench headed by then Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a petition by the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) over the formation of a new JIT in the Model Town case. Interestingly, Justice Asif Saeed, now CJP, remarked that after the indictment of former Punjab IGP Mushtaq Sukera in the case, all statements had to be recorded again.

Model Town Tragedy: Background

A deadly clash took place on 17 June 2014 where several members of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) got killed by the indiscriminate use of force by the Punjab police. The Model Town tragedy made headlines across the world and the PML-N government was criticized and exposed for following a vested political agenda.

Read more: Shahbaz Sharif faces another JIT in Model Town massacre

Later on, a commission was made under the supervision of a LHC serving judge. The commission submitted its report but the PML-N led government did not publish it.  Ultimately, the Punjab government, at the behest of the LHC, had made the report of the Model Town incident public on December 5, 2017.

Justice Najafi reports that then Punjab Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Rana Sanaullah seems to have already decided on June 16, 2014 that Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chairman Dr. Tahir ul Qadri would not be allowed any opportunity to hold a long march from Rawalpindi to Lahore, as the latter planned to do on June 23, 2014.

The SC has ordered to constitute a JIT and the LHC has decided to dissolve it. In my opinion, it is clear contempt of court case where the LHC has superseded the orders of the SC,” he said while explaining the case.

This single-minded determination of the minister to thwart Dr. Qadri’s political objectives ended up influencing the police’s heavy-handed strategy in dealing with the situation, which resulted in the needless loss of lives the very next day, Justice Najafi argues in the report.

Justice Najafi outlines four very important points in his findings:

  • “The operation planned and designed under the chairmanship of the then law minister resulted in gruesome killings could have easily been avoided.”
  • “The facts and circumstances of the bloodbath clearly show that the police officers actively participated in the massacre.”
  • “The apathy and recklessness of all authorities in Punjab in the matter under hand created genuine doubts about their innocence.”
  • “The actions of police of firing and severely beating the people on the crime scene is irrefutably suggestive that the police did exactly for which they were sent and gathered over there.”

Though Justice Najafi himself does not affix responsibility for the tragedy, he invites readers to review the facts and circumstances and “easily fix the responsibility of the unfortunate Minhajul Quran incident” themselves.

Read more: Model Town tragedy: Will new JIT be effective?

GVS approached a Lahore-based lawyer to get his comments on the development. “The matter is very clear. The SC has ordered to constitute a JIT and the LHC has decided to dissolve it. In my opinion, it is clear contempt of court case where the LHC has superseded the orders of the SC,” he said while explaining the case. He further maintained that the SC shall immediately look into the matter and pass an order again to conduct a fair investigation into the matter where innocent people lost their lives.

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