ISLAMABAD, Nov 17 (APP):The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition against former prime minister and chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan’s long march towards Islamabad.
A three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ayesha A Malik and Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition of former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Kamran Murtaza against PTI’s long march.
During the course of proceedings, Kamran Murtaza argued that according to Fawad Chaudhry, the long march would reach Islamabad on Friday or Saturday and this could affect normal life in the federal capital. Long march was the right of PTI but the rights of common man should not be affected, he added.
Justice Ayesha Malik inquired whether the government had made any mechanism to regulate the protests.
Justice Athar Minallah remarked that it was a matter for the executive and advised the petitioner to approach them. He said that the judiciary could intervene only in exceptional circumstances.
He asked why should the court interfere when the administration could control the situation?
Senator Kamran Murtaza said that the matter had gone too far as one person was killed in PTI’s long march.
Justice Ayesha Malik inquired that PTI’s long march has been going on for a long time, had he approached the administration?
She asked what was haste in the case of long march and what was the negligence of the administration?
Senator Kamran Murtaza said that an entire province had been paralyzed due to the long march.
Justice Athar Minallah said that if someone violated the laws, the executive had wide powers.
He asked would not the administration and parliament be weakened by the intervention of the judiciary?
Justice Ayesha Malik asked the petitioner to mobilize the administration to play its role. Every day there were protests in many places including Parliament in Islamabad, she said and asked had he ever approached the courts against other protests?
She asked why the intervention of the court was required only in the long march of a particular political party.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the petitioner had mentioned past violations in the application. The Long March was a political issue that could be solved politically, he added.
He said that interference in such issues created a strange situation for the court.
Addressing the petitioner, the Chief Justice said that he (Kamran) had mentioned an audio in his application which mentioned bringing weapons. Audio was true or false but it could disturb the law and order situation, he added.
He asked did the people in the long march of May 25 had weapons? The right to protest was not unlimited but subject to constitutional limits, he added.
The Chief Justice said that the request for H-9 ground was given for PTI’s May 25 long march. When the administration refused to give H-9 ground, the Supreme Court intervened, he added.
He observed that despite the allocation of the H-9 ground, the crowd went to D-Chowk.
Addressing the petitioner, the Chief Justice said that he wanted the Supreme Court to play the role of Deputy Commissioner. Apparently, the court’s intervention in the case of Long March would be premature, he added.
Senator Kamran Murtaza said that it seemed that the administration could not control the situation. Justice Athar Minallah while talking to Kamran Murtaza said that he was a senator and he should strengthen the parliament but he had approached the court on the basis of assumption.
Kamran Murtaza said that he had approached the court in a personal capacity, on this Justice Athar Minallah said that how could he believe that he was also a part of the government and had come in a personal capacity.
The court asked Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman whether the administration had taken any decision regarding the venue for PTI’s long march.
The Additional Attorney General said that a request has been received from PTI and pleaded the court to grant half an hour time as he would inform the court after receiving information from the relevant forum. He said that a similar case was also pending in the Islamabad High Court.
The Additional Attorney General informed the court that the administration had asked the PTI to hold a rally in Rawat. The administration sought an affidavit from the PTI, which had not yet been filed, he added.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that if there was a clear threat of constitutional violation, the judiciary would intervene. The other party could have its own position on the violations, he added.
He said that the matter became complicated for the court on violation of Supreme Court orders as court orders were for implementation.
When the hearing resumed after a break, Justice Athar Minallah said that petition had become ineffective.
Kamran Murtaza said that he wanted judicial intervention to maintain law and order in the country.
Justice Athar Minallah inquired if he was saying that the situation had gone beyond the control of the administration.
Justice Ayesha Malik asked whether the federal government did not know how to fulfill its responsibility. She questioned what could the Supreme Court do in administrative matters?
Justice Athar Minallah remarked that the state was powerful and empowered. The bench could understand that he was worried about the current situation. The government could stop the protest anywhere and every citizen was affected by such a situation, he added.
He said that today’s headline was about the attack in Bajaur and Lakki Marwat which affected the entire nation.
The Advocate General said that the Federation had also written a letter to Punjab under Article 149 on November 5. The administration had asked PTI about the date, time and place, which was not answered, he added.
He alleged that PTI talked about bloodshed before the Wazirabad incident and after the Wazirabad incident, the administration refused to allow PTI to enter Islamabad. The case on the permission of the rally in Islamabad was pending in the Islamabad High Court, he added.
Justice Athar Minallah remarked that the court wanted peace in the country, not chaos. The court did not want to give an order that was premature, he added.
He said that the letter of the Federation to the provinces under Article 149 was a very serious matter.
The bench remarked that there was no reason for the court to issue the order after the arguments of Advocate General Islamabad.
Later, the court dismissed Senator Kamran Murtaza’s petition to stop the PTI long march as ineffective.