Tuesday June 25, 2024

SHC directs city administration to process PTI plea for holding public meeting at Bagh-e-Jinnah

By Jamal Khurshid
April 18, 2024
This image shows the building of the Sindh High Court in Karachi. — Facebook/Sindh High Court Bar Association Karachi
This image shows the building of the Sindh High Court in Karachi. — Facebook/Sindh High Court Bar Association Karachi

The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the city administration to ensure that the applications filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s general secretary seeking permission to hold a public gathering at Bagh-e-Jinnah was processed in accordance with the law and if there was no legal impediment then compliance be furnished.

The court also issued notices to the deputy commissioner of District East and others on a petition filed by the PTI seeking directives for the commissioner to decide the party’s application with regard to holding a public meeting at Bagh-e-Jinnah.

PTI General Secretary Ali Ahmed Palh said in the petition that the party wants to hold a peaceful public assembly at Bagh-e-Jinnah on April 28, and they have written to the District East deputy commissioner for permission. He said that despite receiving the application, the DC was yet to decide it.

The petitioner’s counsel Ali Tahir said that the constitution of Pakistan enshrines the freedom of assembly as a fundamental right in Article 16, and that this article guarantees every citizen the right to assemble peacefully and without arms, subject to reasonable restrictions imposed in the interest of public order.

He said the petitioner was not granted a no-objection certificate by the DC despite having been written three letters, and the delay in deciding the application was mala fide and a sheer attempt to usurp, hamper and infringe upon the fundamental rights of the freedoms of assembly, association and speech.

He submitted that the petitioner’s political party had already been subjected to illegal action by the Election Commission during the general elections held on February 8, while similar treatment was being given to the PTI, which was one of the largest political parties of the country.

He submitted that no reason has been communicated by the deputy commissioner or other executive authorities for not entertaining the petitioner’s request to hold a public gathering and the largest political party of the country was being denied its democratic right to have access to the public and its support.

The court was requested to declare that the petitioner and his party are entitled to the protection of articles 16 and 17 of the constitution, and to direct the DC to decide the application of the petitioner. The counsel also requested the court to grant the party permission to hold the public meeting at Bagh-e-Jinnah on April 28 in case the DC refuses to accept their application.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, after the preliminary hearing of the petition, issued pre-admission notices to the DC, the advocate general of Sindh and others for April 19 and called their comments.

The court observed that the DC shall be in attendance along with a reply. In meantime, the directed the official respondents to ensure that applications filed by the petitioner seeking permission to hold a public gathering be processed in accordance with the law and if there was no legal impediment then compliance be furnished on the next date of hearing.

Karachi to protest

The April 28 gathering at Bagh-e-Jinnah in Karachi, organised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), would symbolise the public protest against the alleged rigging in the General Election of 2024, party leader Haleem Adil Sheikh said on Wednesday, adds our correspondent.

Sheikh, the PTI Sindh president, along with other party leaders, visited the mausoleum of Pakistan's founder, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. They laid a floral wreath at his grave and inspected the adjacent ground where the party plans to hold its rally.

Speaking to journalists, Sheikh remarked that the PTI's founder and former Prime Minister Imran Khan was the sole politician in the country advancing Jinnah's vision for Pakistan. He said that the nation's hopes for a better future were shattered on election day, February 8, due to rigging. "Fair and transparent elections were expected to ensure true democracy. However, discrepancies were observed, where those who did not win according to Form 45 were declared winners on Form 47," he commented.

Sheikh said that mandate theft occurred across the country, but Karachi bore the brunt of it, as those who lost the elections were declared winners through manipulation of votes. He added that PTI has taken legal action against the rigging, and their petitions are being heard in the courts. He urged Karachi residents to join the party rally to express their discontent with the election results and demand the release of the PTI founder. He said that those who tampered with the public mandate should be held accountable. The PTI had extended invitations to Jamaat-e-Islami, the Grand Democratic Alliance, and other political parties sharing a similar stance on the election results to join the April 28 rally, he added.

PTI leader Khurram Sher Zaman expressed hope that the people of Karachi, having been supporters of Khan and PTI, would participate in the rally in large numbers to reclaim their mandate, which was stolen through rigging. PTI Karachi president Raja Azhar mentioned that the DC East had not yet granted the party permission to hold the rally, despite the application being submitted long ago.