The Supreme Court has resumed hearing multiple review petitions against its verdict in the Faizabad dharna case of February 2019.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Aminuddin and Justice Athar Minallah is hearing multiple review petitions.
Meanwhile, the federation, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the election commission have also decided to withdraw their review petitions against the verdict.
PTI lawyer Ali Zafar told the court they did not wish to pursue the case. Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan also apprised the court of the federal government's decision to withdraw its review petition.
One of the founding members of the PTI, Akbar S Babar, said at the Supreme Court that it’s been a year since the decision on PTI’s party funding, yet it’s not been implemented. He said that was why he had appeared before the apex court.
CJP Isa said if petitioner Sheikh Rashid’s lawyer has become a minister then he should appoint his replacement.
On the other hand, no counsel appeared on behalf of the MQM, which is also one of the petitioners.
The CJP remarked that previously it was said that the verdict was full of errors, and asked if now all those errors have been removed. Those who have remained in authority are now lecturing on TV and Youtube, he added.
He also suggested keeping the petitions pending and said if someone wanted to say something, they could submit a written statement.
While some petitioners requested to withdraw their petition, Sheikh Rashid’s lawyer remarked they would pursue their petition.
The CJP remarked that they had just commented on the classified report that some politicians made irresponsible statements. “We did not name anyone, you yourself assumed it was about you.”
He asked the lawyer for petitioner Ijazul Haq if he was saying the intelligence agency’s report wasn’t correct. He asked the lawyer to submit an affidavit that their stance was correct.
CJP Isa also asked the attorney general for Pakistan if he should not be fined for wasting the court’s time and keeping the country concerned. “Have the institutions decided the verdict was correct?” he asked the AGP.
He told the attorney general to state they were ordered to file a review petition and then also mention where the order had come from. The CJP also mentioned the May 12, 2007 Karachi riots and asked if that should also be forgotten.
The AGP said the court verdict in the Faizabad dharna case should be implemented.
The CJP remarked it is interesting that those who should have filed a review petition did not, adding the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) did not file a review and accepted the verdict. “The late Khadim Hussain Rizvi should be applauded for this,” he remarked.
This is what happens in Pakistan that the order has come from ‘higher authorities’, CJP Isa remarked, adding it doesn’t come from God but from somewhere else.
“You cannot reach Khadim Rizvi and cannot admit to this,” the CJP said.
The CJP told the AGP that it’s not enough that the review petition is being withdrawn. Either say action is being taken against those signing off on the agreement with the TLP.
He added that if the verdict was implemented then, similar serious incidents would not have occurred.
CJP Isa also remarked that the petitioners have accepted the verdict as correct, and now it’s their test whether they support the court or not.
The court then demanded written responses from the parties concerned by October 27 and adjourned the hearing of the case till November 1. It also gave another opportunity to the parties that were not present.
During the proceedings, the AGP remarked that the last live proceedings were watched more than the Pakistan-India match. At this, the CJP asked where their share was from the revenue.
The CJP rejected the AGP’s request for two months to submit their written response. Addressing the petitioners, he remarked that now that they had accepted the court verdict as the truth it remains to be seen if they supported the honest people (in reference to the judges).
The court then demanded details of the implementation on the dharna case verdict.
Over the last two days, the Intelligence Bureau and PEMRA had already submitted miscellaneous petitions before the apex court seeking permission to withdraw their review pleas, saying they did not wish to defend further.
The separate petitions stated that the Faizabad dharna case review had been fixed for hearing on September 28. Since the IB and PEMRA did not wish to defend their review petitions, they wished to withdraw them.
The federation had filed a review petition against the Supreme Court’s decision in the case through the Ministry of Defence.
On September 21, the Supreme Court had fixed the case for hearing and issued notices to the parties concerned.
Another petitioner, former minister Sheikh Rashid's lawyer, pleaded for adjournment of the hearing on the revision petitions.
Besides the IB, Pemra and Sheikh Rashid’s Awami Muslim League, eight review petitions, including by the election commission, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and MQM, had been filed.
The Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) had started a protest sit-in at Islamabad’s Faizabad interchange on November 8, 2017 against some alleged changes to the Elections Act. The protests had paralysed life in the capital city for about 20 days during which several unsuccessful rounds of negotiations were also held with the then government.
On November 25, 2017, the police had launched an operation against the religio-political group to force it to clear the area, using water canons and tear gas.
On November 21, 2017, the Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice over the sit-in and exactly a year later on November 22, 2018, a two-judge bench consisting of Justice Isa and Justice Mushir Alam reserved their ruling.
On Feb 6, 2019, the Supreme Court issued a 43-page judgement authored by Justice Isa.
Salient features of Faizabad dharna case verdict
Following are some points made by the two-judge bench comprising the then Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mushir Alam against the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan's (TLP) Faizabad dharna of 2017:
- Subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law, citizens have the right to form and to be members of political parties.
- Every citizen and political party has the right to assemble and protest provided such assembly and protest is peaceful and complies with the law imposing reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order. The right to assemble and protest is circumscribed only to the extent that it infringes on the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free movement and to hold and enjoy property.
- Protestors who obstruct people’s right to use roads and damage or destroy property must be proceeded against in accordance with the law and held accountable.
- If a political party does not comply with the law governing political parties then the Election Commission must proceed against it in accordance with the law. All political parties have to account for the source of their funds in accordance with the law.
- The State must always act impartially and fairly. The law is applicable to all, including those who are in government and institutions must act independently of those in government.
- A person issuing an edict or fatwa, which harms another or puts another in harm’s way, must be criminally prosecuted under the Pakistan Penal Code, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and/or the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.
- Broadcasters who broadcast messages advocating or inciting the commission of an offence violate the PEMRA Ordinance and the terms of their licences and must be proceeded against by PEMRA in accordance with the law. Those spreading messages through electronic means which advocate or incite the commission of an offence are liable to be prosecuted under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.
- All intelligence agencies (including ISI, IB and MI) and the ISPR must not exceed their respective mandates. They cannot curtail the freedom of speech and expression and do not have the authority to interfere with broadcasts and publications, in the management of broadcasters/publishers and in the distribution of newspapers.
- Intelligence agencies should monitor activities of all those who threaten the territorial integrity of the country and all those who undermine the security of the people and the State by resorting to or inciting violence.
- The Constitution emphatically prohibits members of the Armed Forces from engaging in any kind of political activity, which includes supporting a political party, faction or individual. The Government of Pakistan through the Ministry of Defence and the respective Chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are directed to initiate action against the personnel under their command who are found to have violated their oath.
- The police and other law enforcement agencies are directed to develop standard plans and procedure with regard to how best to handle rallies, protests and dharnas, and ensure that such plans/procedures are flexible enough to attend to different situations.