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Larger SC bench to hold hearing to decide on Model Town JIT formation

Larger SC bench to hold hearing to decide on Model Town JIT formation

A five-member Supreme Court bench on Wednesday will hold a hearing to decide if a new joint investigation team (JIT) can be formed to probe the Model Town case which is still pending a formal judgement.

The bench comprises Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, and Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Faisal Arab and Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel. The chief justice had announced forming a larger bench to decide the legal point last month while hearing a petition requesting a new JIT to probe the incident.

A two-member Supreme Court bench, headed by the chief justice, was hearing a petition filed by Bisma Amjad, a woman affected by the incident in the top court's Lahore registry.

The court has issued notices to 146 people, including, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Opposition Leader in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Hamza Shahbaz, PML-N's Rana Sanaullah, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar and former foreign minister Khawaja Asif.

On June 17, 2014, 14 people were killed and 100 others injured after police launched an assault on PAT supporters gathered outside the residence of Qadri in Model Town, Lahore.

A subsequent judicial inquiry report on the incident pointed fingers at then Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah and the Punjab police for what had transpired that day.

From a reading of the conclusions of Justice Baqar Najafi's report, it is understandable why the provincial government fought tooth and nail to prevent its release.

It is also understandable why its publication was preceded by a lengthy press conference by Rana Sanaullah in which he sought to highlight the report's flaws, including what he called its reliance on "secondary evidence" and it, therefore, having no legal status whatsoever.

He kept referring to it as "defective", and the Punjab government made sure the Justice Najafi report was accompanied online by a one-man committee's report on a review of its flaws.

Delineating the chronology of events, Justice Najafi reported that then Punjab minister for parliamentary affairs Rana Sanaullah seemed to have already decided on June 16, 2014, that the PAT Chairman Qadri would not be allowed any opportunity to hold a long march from Rawalpindi to Lahore, as the latter had planned to do on June 23, 2014.

This single-minded determination of the minister to thwart Qadri's political objectives ended up influencing the police's heavy-handed strategy in dealing with the situation, which resulted in the needless loss of lives the very next day, Justice Najafi argued in the report.

Though Justice Najafi himself did not affix responsibility for the tragedy, he invited readers to review the facts and circumstances and "easily fix the responsibility of the unfortunate Minhajul Quran incident" themselves.

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