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Saturday May 25, 2024

SHC directs district administration to decide on PTI’s application for April 28 public meeting

By Jamal Khurshid
April 20, 2024
The Sindh High Court building. — SHC website/File
The Sindh High Court building. — SHC website/File

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday directed the city administration to decide the applications filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) general secretary seeking permission to hold a public gathering at the Bagh-e-Jinnah in accordance with the law.

The direction came 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 wanted to hold a peaceful assembly at the Bagh-e-Jinnah on April 28, and they had written to the District East deputy commissioner for permission.

He added that despite receiving the application, the DC was yet to decide on it. The petitioner’s counsel, Ali Tahir, said the constitution of Pakistan enshrined the freedom of assembly as a fundamental right in the Article 16, and that this article guaranteed 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 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 no reason had 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 high court was requested to declare that the petitioner and his party were entitled to the protection of the Article 16 and Article 17 of the Constitution, and direct the DC to decide on the application of the petitioner.

The counsel also requested the SHC to grant the PTI permission to hold the public meeting at the Bagh-e-Jinnah on April 28 in case the DC refused to accept their application. Filing comments on the petition, the District East deputy commissioner submitted that the application of the petitioner had been forwarded to the East SSP and resident engineer of the Quaid-e-Azam Mazar Management Board, and relevant assistant commissioners of Jamshed Quarters and Ferozabad for their specific comments so that permission may be acceded accordingly.

A division bench headed by SHC Chief Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, after taking the comments of the East DC on record directed the respondents to decide the application in accordance with the law and submit a report on April 26.