ISLAMABAD: While rejecting a petition filed against the federal government’s decision of banning indoor weddings, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Wednesday noted contradictions in the government’s policies to contain the rising spread of coronavirus in the country.
He remarked it was time for all political forces to unite against coronavirus. “Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary leadership,” he observed.
Hearing the petition, IHC Chief Justice Minallah remarked that the court could not interfere in national level policy decisions, adding the leadership should take unusual decisions during the unusual situation.
“No one knows what will happen in future due to coronavirus,” he said, adding: “It is the responsibility of the government to follow the SOPs (standard operating procedures) prepared by itself as well as ensuring implementation of the same.”
Justice Minallah said the current wave of infections was more serious and needed extreme caution. Noting that the UK police had been authorised to penalise those violating Covid-19 SOPs, he said it was the government’s responsibility to ensure enforcement of the safety guidelines.
“Coronavirus claimed lives of your father and Peshawar High Court (PHC) chief justice Waqar Ahmed Seth,” he said addressing petitioner’s counsel Sardar Taimoor Aslam. “We should voluntarily shut down everything,” he said. To which, Aslam replied that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed against closing down businesses.
The hearing was also attended by Attorney General Barrister Khalid Jawed Khan, Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokhar and Deputy Attorney General Tayyab Shah. “We cannot ignore the coronavirus situation,” Barrister Khan said. “For us it is saving lives versus saving livelihoods. A complete shutdown is easy but we are not headed that way. The decision will be taken by the federal and provincial governments,” he added.
The judge observed that the petition was filed when the government itself was not serious about the issue. Noting the Covid-19 SOPs violations during electioneering ahead of the polls in Gilgit-Baltistan, he said the situation was worrying.
Justice Minallah also expressed dismay at the parliament for not playing its due role despite one of its members dying due to coronavirus. “We have high expectations from the parliament. We don’t know what the future holds. No one seems to think that they can be next [victim of Covid-19],” he said.
“We trust the experts’ opinion and government measures. You and I both need to follow the Covid-19 SOPs,” said Justice Minallah while disposing of the petition.