CJP hints at forming new JIT in Model Town case

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—Justice Nisar orders ATC to hear case on daily basis

LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday inquired whether a new joint investigation team (JIT) can be legally formed in the Model Town incident case when a JIT has already submitted its report.

A two-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Nisar, was hearing a petition pertaining to the Model Town incident at the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry. The petition was filed by a teenager girl Bisma, whose mother was killed in the Model Town incident.

Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri appeared before the bench and requested that the top court constitutes an impartial Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the incident.

Qadri questioned the neutrality of the JIT formed previously by the Punjab government and said that the report submitted by the JIT comprised members of the former administration, who were also suspects in the case.

He claimed that his party’s witnesses could not appear before the JIT due to government pressure, and alleged that the JIT had recorded one-sided witness accounts

The CJP asked Qadri if it was legally possible to form a JIT when a previous one had already submitted a report. The PAT chief said that there was precedent of a JIT being formed more than once.

Justice Nisar informed the PAT chief that on his request, he has ordered the ATC to hear the case on a daily basis.

Further, the CJP told Qadri, “Since your appeal was rejected in the Lahore High Court, you can file it in the Supreme Court.”

The bench also issued notices to the Punjab government, police and prosecution department.

In 2014, at least 14 people were killed and 100 others injured in police action against Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers in Lahore’s Model Town area during an ‘anti-encroachment operation’ on June 17.

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 officer 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.”