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Court grants conditional permission to PAT for Mall Road protest

LAHORE: A three-judge bench of Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday announced the reserved decision on petitions challenging protest sit-in of the opposition parties at Mall Road in Lahore. 

The bench granted conditional permission to Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) to stage protest sit-in till 12am (midnight) at the main artery of provincial capital.

The bench also ordered the party leadership to ensure clearing the protest site till 12am and open the roads for traffic, besides issuing directives to the media for not covering the rally after 12am.

Later, the bench also issued notices to the respondents and adjourned the hearing till January 31.

Earlier today, the bench had reserved its verdict on the petitions filed by Mall Road Traders Association and Lawyers’ Foundation seeking the court injunctions against sit-in announced by Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) with support of two mainstream political parties, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) to demand justice for the victims of Model Town incident.

At outset of the hearing, the bench expressed extreme displeasure over non-appearance of Punjab government’s Chief Secretary.

The chief secretary should have turned up at court to brief over the situation and agitation on Mall Road of the provincial capital, the bench remarked.

To which, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab informed the bench that a ban has been imposed on protests and sit-ins in the adjacent areas of The Mall in Lahore.

“Has there been legislation on the matter,” the bench enquired.

In response, Advocate General Shakilur Rehman Khan replied that the local administration had informed the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leadership about security risks and denied a permission to hold a protest.

On the occasion, the bench remarked that the political parties should demonstrate responsibility for their conduct.

As result of the ongoing preparation for a grand protest in Lahore, the school going children and patients suffered the most owing to traffic congestion, besides traders, the bench observed.

The provincial government issued a notification of restricting protests in the provincial capital but was failed to introduce legislation on the matter, the bench noted.

At last hearing

On Tuesday, the full bench issued notices to the federal and provincial governments, besides the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

The full bench, headed by Justice Ameenuddin Khan and comprising Justice Shahid Jamil Khan and Justice Shahid Karim, directed the PAT and other respondents to come up with response on Wednesday morning.

Earlier, a larger bench was dissolved after Justice Farrukh Irfan recused himself from the bench citing personal reasons. As a result, the matter was referred to the chief justice to constitute the bench afresh.

The bench had referred a petition seeking restraining order against the upcoming protest of the PAT-led opposition parties to the Chief Justice to constitute a larger bench to hear the case.

On Jan 08, PAT chief Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri announced to launch a protest movement against the PML-N government for failing to bring the culprits of the Model Town incident to justice.

Almost all major opposition parties have announced their support for the movement for justice to the victims of the Model Town massacre.

The movement is aimed at mounting pressure on Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah to resign for their alleged role in the incident.

“Our demand of resignations has not been accepted. We will no more ask for resignations now, but we will take it by force,” Qadri had said while addressing a press conference following a prolonged meeting of steering committee in Lahore on Jan 08.

The steering committee, which comprises leaders of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Awami Muslim League, Pak Sarzameen Party, and Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen, was formed to finalize the modalities of the protest movement.

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