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IHC Directs Islamabad Administration to Allow PTI to Hold Protest Rally

CJ Farooq directs authorities against imposing ‘unusual’ conditions and asks PTI to ensure its protest is free of unrest, vandalism

by Staff Report

File photo of IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, courtesy Islamabad High Court

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday directed authorities to allow the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to hold a public gathering in the federal capital after agreeing to reasonable conditions with the party.

“One’s right of assembly cannot be taken away,” observed IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq while hearing a PTI petition seeking the court’s direction to allow it to a public rally in Islamabad against alleged electoral rigging in the Feb. 8 polls. Last week, the district administration had denied a PTI request for a no-objection certificate to stage a rally on March 30 over security concerns.

In today’s hearing, the IHC CJ maintained public gatherings are a constitutional right and directed authorities concerned to agree to terms and conditions with the PTI for the public gathering. To the government’s counsel arguing that the party had violated similar conditions in the past, the CJ directed authorities against imposing “unusual” conditions. “Allow them as per the standard terms of reference,” he said.

To the lawyer contending that the security situation had worsened after a suicide bombing in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that killed six people, including five Chinese nationals, the judge said life cannot come to a halt due to the such incidents. When the state counsel asked for time to respond after getting directions from authorities, the judge observed he had the authority to decide on the matter and did not need any consent. He then told the PTI lawyer to ensure that the public gathering remained free of any unrest or vandalism.

During the hearing, PTI leader Sher Afzal Marwat said the party now wanted to stage its public gathering on April 6 rather than March 30.

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