LHC suspends notification for Model Town JIT

LHC suspends notification for Model Town JIT

LAHORE: A Lahore High Court (LHC) three-member bench on Thursday suspended a notification for formation of new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing Model Town incident by a two to one majority vote, on petitions assailing the new JIT.

The bench, declaring the petitions maintainable, also issued notices to the Punjab government and sought a reply.

The bench headed by Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan and

comprising Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan and Justice Miss Aalia Neelum passed the orders on petitions filed by former Punjab police inspector Rizwan Qadir and constable Khurram Rafiq, facing trial in the Model Town incident.

While Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan and Justice Miss Aalia Neelum ruled in favour of suspending the notification, Justice Qasim wrote a dissenting note.

On occasion of announcement of the reserved verdict, Punjab Advocate General Ahmad Owais lodged a protest on the announcement of the verdict without hearing the stance of the Punjab government.

The bench had reserved the verdict on maintainability of the petitions after hearing arguments this morning and it was announced in the evening.

Earlier, during the hearing in morning, petitioners’ counsel argued that fresh investigation could not be held after the indictment of suspects in a case. He said that both the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Anti Terrorism Act 1997 did not allow formation of second JIT in the same case. He pointed out that the trial in the Model Town case was at its final stage as 86 out of 135 witnesses had testified before the trial court.

He asked the court to declare illegal the government’s act of establishing the new JIT for being in violation of the existing laws.

It is pertinent to mention here that the current JIT was constituted after a five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court disposed of a suo motu notice on Dec 5, 2018, after the Punjab government informed that a new JIT would be formed to investigate the Model Town case.

The suo motu notice was taken on an application of Bisma Amjad, the daughter of Tanzila Amjad who was killed in the Model Town incident. She had requested for formation of a new JIT to probe the killing of workers of the PAT and Idara Minhajul Quran.

Model Town incident took place on June 17, 2014, in which 14 people were killed and 100 others injured after police launched an assault on PAT supporters in Model Town, Lahore.