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LHC ordered to make public judicial inquiry report of Model Town

22 September, 2017

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LAHORE: Justice Sayyed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi of the Lahore High Court on Thursday ordered the Punjab home secretary to make public the judicial inquiry report conducted by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi in killings of Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers in Model Town.

The court ordered the provincial home secretary to immediately provide a copy of the report to the aggrieved persons for their consumption without fail. The judge held that inquiry report was a public document and it should be made public immediately. “Outcome of an inquiry held on account of public interest must be brought in the notice of the public at large because in the democratic system the will of the public was of unique importance,” the judge observed. “Rule of law has to be interpreted in an imaginary manner casting privilege to all sections of the society and the LHC was under bounden duty to not only safeguard but also enforce the fundamental rights of the citizens.”

The judge remarked that whether in a civilized society the government machinery could be utilized to curb the political opponents in such a reckless manner resulting into death of 14 persons.

“The inquiry report prepared by one-man tribunal consisting of an honourable judge of the Lahore High Court regarding the incident of Model Town taken place on 16.06.2014 is a public document being outcome of judicial proceedings, therefore in the public interest, it is directed that the same be publicized forthwith,” the court said in its order.

The court turned down the government counsel’s plea that the proceedings of an inquiry tribunal could not be termed as judicial in nature. He rejected the government’s stance that a single bench had no jurisdiction to hear this petition moved Qaiser Iqbal and 19 other family members of the 2014 Model Town incident’s victims as similar six petitions were pending before a full bench.

The judge held that that the petitions pending before the full bench were not filed by any legal heir of the deceased or injured of the incident rather the petitioners were alien to the incident and could not be termed as an aggrieved party.

Petitioner’s counsel Barrister Syed Ali Zafar submitted that the inquiry report was in the custody of the provincial government but in spite of lapse of three years, it was refusing to make the report public. He submitted that under the Punjab Tribunals of Inquiry Ordinance, 1969, the commission has been given the powers of the civil court and its proceedings classified as judicial proceedings.

He pointed out that the legal heirs of the deceased persons were certainly aggrieved parties who had the right under Article 9A of the constitution as well as the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013, and Qanoon-e-Shahadat Order, 1984, to obtain the copy of inquiry report.

He submitted that article 19(A) of the constitution ensured fundamental right of every citizen to have access to information in all matters of public interest. He said the releasing of the inquiry report was a matter of the public interest and the Punjab home secretary was bound under the law to give the required information to the petitioners.

The additional advocate general (AAG) on behalf of Punjab government while opposing the petition said that the report was only for the benefit of the government and it was not obliged to disclose it.

The judge observed that how it is possible that the government itself appointed a commission and had the report made because it was a matter of public importance and now the government is refusing to disclose it.

The AAG submitted that the report would not serve any useful purpose as it was not a judgement.

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