SC orders ATC to hear Model Town case on daily basis

F.P. Report

LAHORE: The Supreme Court ordered on Saturday the anti-terrorism court (ATC) to hear the Model Town case on daily basis.

A two-member bench of Supreme Court Lahore Registry, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar, heard the suo motu case on delay in the provision of justice to the victims of Model Town incident.

At least 14 people were killed and 100 others injured in police action against PAT workers in Lahore’s Model Town area during an ‘anti-encroachment operation’ on June 17, 2014. During the hearing, the apex court cancelled the leave application of ATC Judge Ijaz Awan and directed him to hear the case on a day-to-day basis.

Earlier, Prosecutor General Lahore had presented before the court a record and petitions of Model Town cases being heard in ATC and Lahore High Court. The court also ordered the high court to give a verdict on the case pertaining to Model Town incident within two weeks.

The top court further ordered that Justice Ali Baqar Najafi’s report into the 2014 deadly clashes between police and followers of Tahir-ul-Qadri, in Lahore’s Model Town area will become a part of the court’s records.

“We are not going against the law. The people who don’t respect the judges will not get any relaxation,” said Chief Justice Nisar while hearing the case.

On April 8, Chief Justice Nisar had taken suo motu notice of delay in the provision of justice to the victims of Model Town incident. He had directed the Punjab government to explain the reasons and details pertaining to the delay.

While speaking to an affectee Bisma, who lost her mother in the incident, Chief Justice Nisar had assured her that justice will be dispensed. “You don’t need to be afraid as long as I am alive,” the CJP remarked.

The Punjab government, at the behest of the Lahore High Court, had made the report of the Model Town incident public on December 5, 2017. The inquiry report, prepared by Justice Baqir Najfi commission, said that police tried to cover up the facts regarding who gave orders to open fire on protesters.

It adds that no legal opinion was sought from the Punjab advocate general prior to the start of the operation. The commission, in its report, also stated that on the ground, the standoff continued the whole night, resulting in minor injuries to police constables as well as PAT workers.

The commission observed: “The level of cooperation in digging out the truth is that no police official from top to bottom, whether actively participated in the operation or not, did utter a single word about the person under whose command the police resorted to firing upon the PAT workers.”

Further, in its conclusion, the commission said, “It is shocking to note that everyone has deliberately but unsuccessfully tried to cover each other from possible adverse legal effects.”