LHC rejects appeal to summon Nawaz, Shahbaz in Model Town case

A Lahore High Court (LHC) full bench on Wednesday rejected two sets of appeals challenging a trial court’s decision on a private complaint of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT)/Idara Minhajul Quran regarding the 2014 Model Town incident.

The PAT in its appeal had challenged the earlier decision of an anti-terrorism court to the extent of not summoning 12 people (all former parliamentarians of the PML-N including Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif), nominated by the party in its private complaint.

Former inspector general of Punjab police, Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera and 127 other government officials had challenged the ATC's decision to the effect of their summoning by the trial court in the complaint moved by the PAT.

The ATC in April this year indicted 116 police officials on a private complaint filed by the Idara Minhajul Quran for their trial on charges of killing its workers during 2014 Model Town incident. The 116 accused indicted by the court pleaded not guilty and opted to contest their trial.

The bench headed by Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan had reserved its verdict on appeals challenging the trial court's decision on June 27 after Punjab Prosecutor General Ehtesham Qadir and lawyers of appellants had concluded their arguments. Justice Aalia Neelum and Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem were the other members of the bench.

The court today decided to uphold the ATC's earlier decision and rejected the PAT appeal to summon Nawaz, Shahbaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Rana Sanaullah, Khwaja Saad Rafiq, Khwaja Asif, Pervaiz Rashid, Abid Sher Ali, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Syed Tauqir Shah, Azam Suleman and Rashid Mahmood Langrial, as well as Sukhera's appeal.

The bench rejected the PAT's appeal with a 2 to 1 majority. Justice Muhammad Qasim Ali Khan opposed the decision made by the two other judges to reject the appeal and issued dissenting note.

Model Town incident

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.

Read more: Youth, women among seven killed in PAT supporters' clash with police

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 PAT Chairman Tahirul 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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