Notices to govt, Pemra on plea against opposition sit-in on The Mall
LAHORE: A Lahore High Court full bench on Tuesday issued notices to federal and provincial governments and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on petitions challenging the dharna (sit-in) of opposition parties being held today (Wednesday) on The Mall. The three-judge bench headed by Justice Aminuddin Khan also sought personal appearance of Punjab Advocate General Shakilur Rehman Khan in the court today (Wednesday) when the hearing would resume at 9am. Mall Road Traders Association and Lawyers’ Foundation had filed the petitions with a prayer to restrain the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), PPP, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) from staging the sit-in on The Mall since there was a ban on holding protest activities in the area. Advocate Asad Manzoor Butt represented the traders and argued before the court that the provincial government had in 2011 put a ban on holding protests, rallies and sit-in on The Mall on the direction of the high court. He pointed out that the government under a legislation allocated Nasser Bagh for such activities, but the ban had never been implemented by the government. He said business activities had severely been affected due to protests on The Mall since the area was a commercial hub of the city. He asked the bench to restrain the opposition parties from holding sit-in on The Mall. Representing the other petitioner, Advocate A K Dogar argued that staging protests against a lawfully elected government was not only unconstitutional but also a violation of Section 124-A (sedition) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). He said the protest would lead the country to anarchy and paralyse the system, causing a huge financial loss to the people and the country. He asked the court to declare the sit-in by the opposition parties an act of disloyalty to the State and a violation of the fundamental rights enjoyed by other peaceful citizens of the country. However, the bench did not pass any stay order and issued notices to the respondents for today (Wednesday). Justice Shahid Jamil and Justice Shahid Karim are the other members of the bench. Earlier in the day, a full bench headed by Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan refused to hear the same petitions for personal reasons. Later, Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah formed the full bench headed by Justice Aminuddin Khan which took up the matter same day.