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Tuesday February 27, 2024

CJP Isa hopes Faizabad sit-in commission to live up to expectations

Supreme Court adjourns hearing till January 24 after govt forms new inquiry commission

November 15, 2023
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa presides over the hearing of petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 on September 18, 2023. — PPI
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa presides over the hearing of petitions challenging the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 on September 18, 2023. — PPI

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa has hoped that the Faizabad sit-in inquiry commission formed by the government will conduct a transparent probe to fix the responsibility for the days-long 2017 protests.

His remarks come as a three-member bench, headed by CJP Isa, and comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Athar Minallah heard the matter on Wednesday.

During the hearing of the case, CJP Isa expressed hope that the newly-formed commission will live up to the expectations of the nation.

“The commission will either throw dust in [our] eyes or it will write a new history; we hope the inquiry commission will conduct an independent and transparent investigation,” the top judge remarked.

During the last hearing of the case on November 1, the CJP-led bench rejected the government's initial fact-finding committee, ordering the Attorney-General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan to form a new inquiry commission to ensure the implementation of the apex court verdict in the Faizabad sit-in case.

At the hearing today, AGP Awan presented before the court the notification on the reconstitution of a three-member inquiry commission to probe the implementation of the verdict of the Faizabad sit-in case.

The federal government formed the new inquiry commission hours before presenting it before the apex court.

According to the notification, the commission will be headed by former KP inspector-general of police Akhtar Ali Shah, and consists of ex-IG Tahir Alam, and Interior Ministry Additional Secretary Khushal Khan.

The notification also contains the terms of reference (TORs) of the commission which stated that the commission will submit the report on the matter within two months of its establishment.

"The inquiry commission will probe illegal financiers of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP)," the notification read.

It added that the commission will recommend action against those who issued statements in favour of the sit-in.

The top adjourned the hearing of the Faizabad sit-in review case till January 22, 2024.

Faizabad sit-in legal saga

This legal saga began on April 15, 2019, when the then-federal government, along with entities like the Defence Ministry, Intelligence Bureau, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), among others, filed review pleas contesting the apex court's judgement delivered by the incumbent CJP Isa regarding the Faizabad sit-in case.

Earlier on February 6, 2019, a two-member bench of the apex court comprising the now-CJP Isa and Justice Mushir Alam recommended that persons, issuing an edict or fatwa to harm another person or put another person in the harm’s way must be dealt with iron hand and prosecuted under relevant laws.

It also ruled that the intelligence agencies must not exceed their respective mandates. Later, the bench disposed of a suo moto case regarding the 2017 Faizabad sit-in staged by the TLP.

The 43-page verdict issued by the two-judge bench and published on the apex court's website read: "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."

In November 2017, the top court took suo motu notice of the three-week-long sit-in, which was held against a change in the finality-of-Prophethood oath, termed by the government as a clerical error, when the government passed the Elections Act 2017.

The sit-in was called off after the protesters reached an agreement with the government.