LHC rejects Punjab govt’s appeal, orders release of Model Town inquiry report
LAHORE: The Punjab government suffered a major setback on Tuesday as a larger bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected its petition, challenging a single bench’s decision to release the report of a judicial inquiry carried out into the Model Town incident.
It directed the government to make the report public within 30 days and provide a copy of the report to the victims of the Model Town incident.
The full bench comprising Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh, Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi, and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin had earlier on November 24 reserved the verdict on an intra-court appeal filed by the provincial government through which it challenged the decision of the single bench that called for making the report public.
The single bench comprising Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi had allowed a petition filed by the victims of the incident on Sept 21, directing the government to release the report.
The provincial government’s lawyer argued before the bench that the matter was sub-judice before a trial court and releasing the report at this juncture will affect and jeopardize the trial, opening a parallel trial in media.
The single bench didn’t fulfill legal requirements while deciding the case and didn’t consider the government’s contention, the government lawyer argued.
He further said the report has become a dead document because it has served its purpose.
On the other side, the counsel of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek argued that the report was a public document and should be declassified. The government has been bound under the Right to Information Act to provide access to such information, he submitted.
The counsel maintained that the government was itself accused in the Model Town incident and thus it did not make the report public.
On July 17, 2014, 14 people were killed and 100 others injured when the police opened fire to disperse protesting PAT workers during an anti-encroachment operation outside the residence of PAT chief Dr. Tahirul Qadri.
Punjab govt to challenge verdict in SC
The Punjab government has decided to challenge the larger bench’s verdict in the apex court. A spokesperson for the government, Zaeem Qadri, said it will go to the Supreme Court, challenging the verdict in question.