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February 24, 2021

Notices issued over blocking of roads during PSL matches

Karachi

February 24, 2021

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the home department’s focal person and the traffic police SP on a contempt application filed against them for violating the undertaking before court with regard to not blocking roads around the National Stadium during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) cricket tournament matches.

Aziz Fatima, media coordinator of the Pasban Democratic Party, said in the contempt-of-court application that despite the undertaking before the court that the road from the Central Jail Karachi to Nipa and Sir Shah Muhammad Suleman Road from New Town to Dalmia (Aga Khan University Hospital Road) will not be blocked during PSL matches, they had been blocked again by the alleged contemnors with containers and other obstructions.

She said that police officials on duty on these roads had also been restraining the movement of vehicles and people, which was a breach of the undertaking given by the alleged contemnors because the undertaking had been made a part of the order of the court. She sought action against the alleged contemnors for violating the undertaking before the court.

The applicant also said that due to the blocking of the roads, various incidents of mobile snatching and mugging have been occurring, while no security officials have been deployed to help the public at large.

The AIGP (legal) said that they used to deploy police officials for the security and safety of the public at large, adding that they will submit reports after collecting information. An SHC division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar directed the provincial law officer and the AIGP (legal) to submit their comments on the points raised by the applicant by February 26.

Last week the home department and traffic police officials had assured the SHC that University Road and Sir Shah Muhammad Suleman Road would not be blocked during the PSL cricket tournament matches at the National Stadium.

The assurance came on a petition that was filed against the closure of roads leading to the National Stadium during the Pakistan-South Africa Test series and the PSL matches, which had yet to start at that time.

The home department official, however, said that the law enforcement agencies and the traffic police were making some security arrangements during the arrival and departure of the PSL teams for a limited period of time.

The provincial law officer said that the petition was filed against the closure of roads around the National Stadium during the Pakistan-South Africa series, which was over and so the petition had become infructuous.

The petitioner’s counsel Irfan Aziz said that though the series was over, the PSL tournament would start on February 20, and the police and the home department had again started blocking the roads, causing great inconvenience to the public.

The counsel told the court that the road from the Central Jail Karachi to Nipa and Sir Shah Muhammad Suleman Road heading towards Dalmia had been blocked. The focal person of the home department and the traffic SP gave a clear statement before the court that neither those roads were blocked nor would they be blocked during the PSL tournament.

They said that the law enforcement agencies and the traffic police department would make some security arrangements during the arrival and departure of the PSL teams for a limited period of time.

After taking the assurance of the home department and the traffic police on record, an SHC division bench headed by Justice Mazhar disposed of the petition. Petitioner Aziz Fatima had earlier said that the provincial government had paralysed the traffic of Karachi by cordoning off all the roads leading to the National Stadium from 8am to 8pm between January 26 and January 31, which had been affecting the routine life of the citizens and was thus a violation of their fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution.

She said that the government functionaries had blocked several access points leading to Sir Shah Muhammad Suleman Road, University Road, Dalmia Road, Aga Khan Road

and Karsaz Road illegally and unconstitutionally.

She also said that the police and other law enforcement agencies were not even allowing pedestrians to walk near the stadium, which was against the constitutional provisions, vis-à-vis freedom of movement, while it was also against the principle of natural justice and international rules, as people could not use the roads even in emergencies.

The petitioner said that the Supreme Court had observed in the dharna case that no roads should be blocked under any circumstances, so the provincial government was violating the orders of the country’s top court.

She requested that the court immediately remove all the containers and other obstructions from the main roads and the service lanes around the National Stadium. She also requested that the court direct the respondents to immediately allow free access to the public as well as the patients of the Aga Khan University Hospital, the Liaquat National Hospital, the National Institute of Blood Diseases and other health facilities in t``he vicinity of the stadium.