Protests on Mall Road continue despite section 144


LAHORE: Despite Punjab government’s imposition of section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) 1898 on the Mall Road, in compliance with the directives of the Lahore High Court (LHC) and the commendations of the district government, sit-ins and protests by a number of organisations are being carried out.

Under the said section, any concerned magistrate or Nazim, by a written order stating the material facts of the case and served in manner provided by section 134, may direct any person or the public to abstain from a certain act including a gathering of five or more individuals at a specific place, if he considers that such direction would prevent obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public tranquility or a riot.

This ban may persist for at least two consecutive days, and a week at maximum, however, over the request of the magistrate, the provincial government in a bid to prevent any aforementioned untoward situations, may issue a gazette notification extending the duration of the ban. Moreover, anyone who does not comply the ban, a case can be registered against him or her under section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which can be from one month in prison along with a fine of Rs600 to 6 months in jail as well as a fine worth Rs3000.

An example of this is the imposition of section 144 on the Mall Road for an undefined period, under which neither can any protests be carried out on the thoroughfare nor can any sit-ins be held.

However, section 144 for the past four days was thrashed by the lady health workers (LHWs), lady health supervisors, members of the All Pakistan Clerks Association (APCA), Jamaate Islami’s Farmers’ Wing, secretaries of the union councils (UCs) and employees of the Livestock Department, who while pressing for their demands added to the long continuing series of taking section 144 as a joke.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, spokesperson of the Lahore district management said that it was the police’s responsibility to register a case against those breaking the law. While on the other hand, Civil Lines SP Raza Safdar Kazmi told this correspondent that no cases had been registered because the negotiations between the protesters and the authorities were underway.