ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday disposed of the government's petition seeking contempt proceedings against PTI Chairman Imran Khan, stating that whatever happened yesterday has shaken the court's trust in the country's political parties.
A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial heard the contempt petition.
The federal government had filed the petition against Imran Khan for violating the court orders during the “Azadi March” that ended abruptly today.
The move came after the PTI chairman gave a six-day ultimatum to the government to announce the election date, vowing to return to Islamabad with three million people if his demand was not met.
Imran Khan had openly flouted the Supreme Court’s directives on Wednesday and asked his party supporters to reach the D-Chowk in Islamabad’s Red Zone in violation of the orders to hold the rally at a designated place identified by the apex court.
The court had issued the instructions in this regard after hearing a petition of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) a day prior.
The government in its petition stated that despite the SC order, PTI Chairman Imran Khan told his workers to gather at the D-Chowk and after changes in the security arrangements, the PTI workers damaged state property.
“PTI workers opened fire and two fire tenders, worth millions of rupees, were set on fire,” it said.
During the proceedings, the apex court observed that the yesterday's order allowing the PTI to hold protest in Islamabad was to ensure the fundamental rights of movement, assembly and association as enshrined in the Constitution.
He stated, “The court had issued the order for the protection of the masses.” Expressing his annoyance over yesterday’s incidents, CJP Bandial said the court had also ordered the political parties to hold negotiations.
“In this case, we issued the order by going beyond our limits,” observed the CJP.
The chief judge said the court tried to build trust between the parties through its order.
However, following the reports of violence and mayhem during the protest brought before the court, the SC has now decided to issue a comprehensive order after pondering over the matter keeping in view the nature of assembly and association so that it can serve as a guideline to the practice of constitutional rights in future.
The court observed that fundamental rights of assembly, association, and movement are not unlimited, but there are certain limits to them.
During the course of the proceedings, Attorney-General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali presented his submissions before the bench pointing out the violations of the court's order by the PTI.
He also mentioned before the court the breach of understanding by the PTI when its workers entered the Red Zone, burnt public property and trees, injured the security forces personnel and created turmoil in the federal capital.
‘PTI should realise its responsibilities towards people of Pakistan’
CJP Umar Ata Bandial remarked that it might be possible that Imran Khan was given the wrong information (about the court order). “Trees in green belts were set on fire for protection from tear gas,” the CJP observed, adding that they came to know the law enforcers continued shelling on the participants of the rally.
“Only PTI’s leadership could have controlled the situation,” noted the CJP.
Replying to the query, the attorney general said that at least 31 police officers were injured in attacks by the PTI’s workers.
The CJP noted that the PTI should realise its responsibilities towards the people of Pakistan. The top judge maintained that the people of Pakistan have rights under Articles 15, 16 and 17 of the Constitution.
The court had stopped the authorities from raids in the public interest and the order will remain in place, remarked the top judge.
On Wednesday, the court issued an order after hearing a petition of the IHCBA, directing the government and the PTI to hold a meeting and finalise the venue and the SOP for the rally.
The SC in its written order stated: “In view of the fact that a categorical assurance has been given on behalf of the top leadership of PTI that their rally would not cause any inconvenience or blockage of Srinagar Highway nor otherwise inconvenience the public and citizenry at large, and that it shall be ensured that the rally is conducted in a peaceful and lawful manner without, in particular, causing any damage of any nature to public or private property, we direct the Chief Commissioner, ICT to provide the same venue for the rally as was provided to JUI(F) sometime ago, which is (as noted above) the ground located between Sectors H-and G-9 area of the Islamabad.”
The court also directed the IGP to ensure that there is no delay in this regard and shall give a presentation by way of progress made/work completed to this court on the next date of hearing.
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