Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa on Wednesday said the three-member fact-finding commission formed by the government to probe the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP)’s 2017 sit-in at Faizabad was empowered to summon “anyone” for investigation.
“The commission can call anyone for investigation … no one is exempt,” he said, as a three-member bench—including Justices Athar Minallah and Aminuddin Khan—continued hearings into several review petitions filed against the 2019 verdict. The original judgment, authored by the CJP before he assumed the top office, had instructed the defense ministry and tri-services chiefs to penalize personnel under their command found to have violated their oath. It had also directed the federal government to prosecute anyone advocating hate, extremism and terrorism in accordance with law. The Ministry of Defense, Intelligence Bureau, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), PEMRA, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, and Ijazul Haq had subsequently sought reviews of the judgment.
Almost all the review pleas have since been withdrawn, with the CJP repeatedly raising the question over who had encouraged them to file them in the first place.
During today’s hearing, the court dismissed the AML chief’s review petition after he also said he wished to withdraw it. Addressing Rashid, the CJP asked why he wished to withdraw the petition four years after he filed it. The AML chief claimed it was filed due to some “misunderstandings,” with the CJP remarking that petitions cannot be filed on “orders from above.” He added: “Everyone knows the truth but no one is courageous to say it out loud.”
Claiming it had become “difficult” to speak the truth, Rashid maintained no one had forced him to file the review petition. “This is not a joke that you file petitions whenever you want and withdraw them whenever you wish,” CJP remarked, adding it was also curious that the appeals were not fixed for four years. “Was the Supreme Court being controlled by forces outside the court at that time?” he questioned, adding the court was also accountable.
After the AML chief, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan came to the rostrum and submitted a notification on the formation of a three-member fact-finding committee comprising former Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General of Police (IGP) Akhtar Ali Shah; former IGP Tahir Aslam Khan; and Interior Ministry Additional Secretary Khushal Khan. The new committee, per its terms of reference, would identify persons responsible for the sit-in and recommend legal action against them. It would also propose measures for police to handle such rallies in future. It would submit its findings to the federal government within two months.
Referring to the notification, the CJP observed there were apprehensions regarding the inclusion into the commission of people currently in service, as their service could be affected. However, Justice Minallah said every institution should perform its own duties. “Don’t make us do what was done at one time by using powers under Article 184,” he said, referring to the court’s suo motu powers.
Dictating the day’s order, the CJP then noted the AGP had informed the court that the commission would also investigate if review petitions against the Faizabad dharna ruling were on the basis of instructions or coincidence. He remarked it was empowered to call all people identified by ex-PEMRA chief Absar Alam. “We will now hear this case after two months,” he added, adjourning the hearing.