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Supreme Court dismisses JUI-F senator’s plea to stop PTI’s long march


Mar 21, 2007
United States

Supreme Court dismisses JUI-F senator’s plea to stop PTI’s long march

Haseeb Bhatti
November 17, 2022

The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday dismissed JUI-F Senator Kamran Murtaza’s petition to stop PTI’s ongoing long march, deeming it as “non-maintainable”.

The petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, states that the PTI chairman has been “trying to establish a narrative basing his ouster from the government on an international conspiracy and threatening to overthrow the incumbent government by marching into the capital territory”.

The petition adds “the sole purpose of such march is nothing more than to again, inter alia, create a situation of chaos and panic in the country through the use of force and illegal arms. It also highlights that ex-PM Imran “is preparing his party workers for waging a so called jihad against the state.”

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice (CJ) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ayesha Malik, and newly elevated Justice Athar Minallah heard the plea in the apex court in Islamabad.

At the onset of the hearing, Senator Murtaza informed the court that the long march will reach Islamabad on Friday or Saturday, according to PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry.

“Daily activities can be disrupted due to the long march,” he said. “The long march is PTI’s right but that should not violate the rights of a common man.”

Responding to the petitioner, Justice Malik asked if the government has formulated any plans to regulate protests.

As the hearing continued, Justice Minallah termed the match an “executive matter”, urging the petitioner to approach the government instead of the court.

“The judiciary can only interfere during exceptional circumstances,” he said, asking that “if the administration can control the situation, why should the court interfere?”

Upon hearing the judges’ remarks, the JUI-F senator recalled how a man lost his life during the Wazirabad shooting. “The matter has gone too far now.”

Justice Malik said PTI’s long march has been going on for many days. “Have you approached the administration so far?” she asked the petitioner.

Long march is a political problem, says Chief justice​

Chief Justice Bandial said that the petition referred to the violations committed during the previous march. “The long march is a political problem that can be resolved politically,” he said, maintaining that a strange situation can arise if the court begins interfering in such matters.
The top judge also referred to an audio clip of a PTI leader where the conversation revolved around bringing weapons to the march, and which was mentioned in the plea. “The law and order situation can be affected [regardless of the debate that whether] the audio is real or fake,” he said.
Justice Minallah asked the petitioner if protesters were carrying weapons during the first long march held by PTI this year on May 25.

“The right to protest is not unlimited but subject to constitutional limits,” he said.

When the hearing resumed after a half an hour’s break, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Amir Rehman presented his arguments. “We want the court to interfere in order to maintain a safe and peaceful environment,” he said.

At this, Justice Minallah asked the AAG if he was trying to say that the situation had already slipped out of the executive’s hands.
The additional attorney general responded by saying that the federal government wrote a letter to the Punjab government on the basis of Article 149 of the Constitution regarding the march.

According to the National Assembly website, Article 149 (4) titled “Direction to provinces in certain cases” states that “the executive authority of the Federation shall also extend to the giving of directions to a province as to the manner in which the executive authority thereof is to be exercised for the purpose of preventing any grave menace to the peace or tranquility or economic life of Pakistan or any part thereof.”

Justice Malik replied that if the Federation does not know how to fulfill its responsibilities, then “what can the Supreme Court do in administrative matters?”

Justice Minallah said that he understood the petitioner’s worries because of the prevailing situation but reminded that “the state is powerful and empowered.”

Meanwhile, the chief justice remarked: “We want peace and order in the country, not chaos. We don’t want to issue a verdict that is premature.”

Justice Bandial acknowledged that the Federation writing a letter to the provinces on the basis of Article 149 of the Constitution was a “serious situation”.

Advocate General Islamabad Jahangir Jadoon informed the court that directions were given to not hold the march after the Wazirabad incident.

“We asked PTI to give us the rally’s time and date many times but to no avail,” he said.

AAG Rehman further added that the administration asked the PTI to give a signed affidavit but it has not been presented so far. “That case is also underway in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).”

Justice Minallah maintained that the executives possess a wide range of powers, and wondered if the parliament and administration would be weakened if the court were to intervene.

Justice Malik advised the law officers to mobilise the administration so that they can play their due role. “There is a protest in Islamabad every other day,” the judge said. “Have you ever referred to the court against the rest of those protests?”

She further asked, “Why is the court’s interference needed for a specific political party’s long march?”

Long march paralysed entire province: Senator Murtaza​

In his response, Senator Murtaza said an entire province has been paralysed due to the long march, to which CJP Bandial told the JUI-F leader that he had approached the court on the basis of assumptions.

“The judiciary will intervene if there is a clear threat of constitutional violation,” the top judge stated.

The petitioner replied saying that the plea also highlighted previous constitutional violations committed.

In response, CJP Bandial said that perhaps the other parties had a different position on the violations. “Matters become complicated for the Supreme Court when its order is violated.”

He also made it clear that the court can be referred to again if the situation takes a turn for the worse.

Towards the end of the hearing, AG Jadoon told the court that the IHC will conduct a hearing on November 18 pertaining to the permission to hold a rally when the long march reaches the capital. “In the meantime, the administration has issued instructions to not hold the rally,” he said.

Earlier today in Jhelum, ex-planning minister Asad Umar said the party’s public gathering in Rawalpindi in the days to come will be the “biggest ever”, adding that the PTI will neither get threatened nor will it bow down.


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