We haven't learnt from Faizabad, May 12 incidents, observes CJP
Attorney General Mansoor Usman said he would file application for withdrawal of petition
ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Observing that “we haven’t learnt a lesson from the incidents of Faizabad sit-in and May 12,” Chief Justice (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday adjourned the hearing of various review petitions until Nov 1.
The CJP was heading the three-day bench hearing review petitions filed by the federal government, Pemra, IB and others against the decision written by him in 2017.
The CJP asked tough questions from the lawyers of various petitioners that whether the apex court’s order was carried out.
CJP Isa asked AGP Mansoor Usman why he was withdrawing the petition. The AGP replied that he had received an order [from authorities]. The CJP asked him to openly reveal [the name of] those who ordered him to withdraw the plea.
Why are you afraid of speaking the truth? CJP Isa asked the AGP.
Addressing the Election Commission (ECP) counsel, CJP Isa said it is a constitutional institution. He asked the lawyers to inform the court who ordered the [ECP] to file a review petition, and ordered now to withdraw the plea. It is the old practice [in Pakistan] that let bygones be bygones.
"Can you tell the court how many people were killed on May 12 [2007 in Karachi]? Let’s forget it, the chief justice asked the ECP lawyer.
CJP Isa said it's not right to say that the government was old or new; the government means authority, whatever the party is in power. Same is the case with the ECP; it’s an institution.
“Everyone should be held accountable. Let’s start the process by self accountability,” he remarked.
The CJP asked the counsel where the apology letter of the ECP for filing the review petition is.
CJP Isa stopped the DG Law of the ECP when he tried to intervene while the lawyer was speaking. “Don’t you trust your lawyer,” he said.
THE EARLY PROCEEDINGS
At the outset of the hearing, CJP Isa observed that [former minister] Sheikh Rashid’s counsel had been appointed as a minister, therefore he should have arranged another lawyer in his place.
He then noted, “I want to make a few things clear. This is a regular bench, not a special bench. Review petitions are immediately fixed [for hearing] but these were not fixed for four years.
“One of the judges who pronounced the verdict has retired, therefore, this case was not fixed before that bench,” he observed.
At this point during the hearing, AGP Awan informed the court that the federal government wished to withdraw its review petition.
Upon the CJP inquiring if there was a reason to do so, the AGP responded, “There is no specific reason. We only want to withdraw the review petition. The federal government does not want to defend the case.”
“Why does [the government] want to withdraw [the plea] now?” he continued.
“First, it was said that there were mistakes in the verdict. Now, at least tell the reasons for withdrawing it,” he added.
The AGP submitted that the government at the time of filing the review plea was different. CJP Isa then asked why the attorney general did not submit written application for the withdrawal, to which the latter responded that he was “giving his statement”.
The Pemra counsel informed the court of the authority’s decision to withdraw its review petition. The CJP asked on whose directions he was doing so.
PTI’s Barrister Ali Zafar also informed the court that the party did not wish to pursue its review plea.
CJP Isa asked the lawyer if he had the authority to withdraw the petition and observed, “If you want to become a respondent [in the case], the court will allow you.”
However, Zafar apologised to be a respondent.
At this point during the hearing, a former Pemra chairman came to the rostrum.
CJP Isa remarked, “Previously, it was said that the verdict is full of mistakes. Now, are the mistakes no longer there in the verdict? Is there any reason to withdraw the review petitions?
“The ones who have remained in authority make speeches on TV. It is said ‘we were not heard’. Now we are sitting here to listen [so] come and tell.”
The CJP observed that the court would keep the Pemra’s petition pending, adding, “so that no one says tomorrow that we were not heard.”
Here, the advocate-on-record, on behalf of Rashid, requested the apex court to continue pursuance of the petition.
The chief justice directed the advocate to inform the court on the next hearing if he wanted to hire another lawyer or if he wanted to present cover arguments.
At this point, Ijazul Haq’s counsel appeared before the court.
The CJP noted, “We only said on the ISI’s report that a few politicians gave irresponsible statements. We did not identify anyone. You assumed on your own that your mention was there.
“Do you want to say that you did not favour the sit-in? Are you saying that the ISI’s report was not correct?” he asked the lawyer. He then directed the counsel to submit an affidavit stating that his stance was correct.
CJP Isa asked, “Attorney General sahib, why not all, including you, be fined?
“The court’s time was wasted. The country was also kept disturbed. Now, you all are coming and saying that you want to withdraw the pleas,” he said.
The chief justice remarked, “We were sitting [and thinking] that perhaps we had made a mistake in the verdict.”
Justice Athar Minallah asked, “Have all the institutions decided that what is written in the verdict is correct?
“The country can only develop through the protection of fundamental rights,” he remarked.
CJP Isa observed that the court would keep the withdrawal pleas pending and directed, “If someone wants to say anything, they may say in writing.
“Everyone is quiet here and on the TV, they will say ‘We were not heard’,” he quipped.
Earlier, the federal government decided to withdraw the review petition it had filed in the Supreme Court in the Faizabad sit-in case.
Attorney General (AGP) Mansoor Usman said he would file application before the three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa which was to take up the petition on today (Thursday) to withdraw the petition.
Interestingly, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has also filed an application to withdraw its civil review petition against the apex court’s 2019 verdict in the Faizabad sit-in case. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) had sought to withdraw a similar petition a day ago.
However, former federal minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has filed a request for adjournment in the case.
Earlier on Wednesday, PEMRA Chairman Saleem Baig had filed the application in the apex court through Advocate Sharif Janjua for withdrawal of petition.
On Tuesday, the IB stated in its application that it did not want to pursue the case anymore.
It may be recalled that at least eight review petitions were filed against the Faizabad sit-in case judgement. The 43-page judgement was authored by Justice Isa and unveiled on Feb 6, 2019. They included the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Election Commission, Ijazul Haq and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Pakistan.
The judgement dealt with the role of intelligence agencies in a 20-day sit-in staged by the ultra-orthodox Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party at the intersection of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad in November 2017.
The TLP had launched the protest against the alleged changes made in lawmakers’ oath avowing that the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) is the last messenger of Allah through the Elections Bill 2017. The protesters had demanded the resignation of the then law minister, Zahid Hamid.
Zahid Hamid had eventually stepped down on Nov 27, 2017, on the demand of the TLP.
The Supreme Court had initiated a suo motu proceeding on the sit-in on Nov 21, 2017. On Nov 22, 2018, a two-judge bench comprising Justice Isa and Justice Mushir Alam reserved its ruling which was released on Feb 6, 2019.