The federal government filed an application to withdraw its review petition in the Faizabad sit-in case as soon as a three-member bench took up the matter on Thursday. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Election Commission also told the court they did not wish to pursue the matter any further. However, the court adjourned the hearing till November 1 and asked for written replies to be submitted.
The three-member bench hearing the issue is led by Justice Qazi Faez Isa and also includes Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aminuddin Khan. A total of eight petitions had been filed against the judgement out of which two had already been withdrawn before the hearing began on Thursday.
The hearing began with Attorney General Mansoor Awan appearing at the rostrum and telling the court that the government wished to withdraw its review petition.
When Justice Isa asked the attorney general for a reason why the petition was being withdrawn, Awan replied that there was no specific reason.
PTI’s lawyer Ali Zafar also told the court that the party no longer wished to pursue the case. Even when Justice Isa offered him to become a party in the case, he declined. He was followed by lawyers for PEMRA, ECP and Ejaz ul Haq who all made similar requests.
However, the chief justice questioned why the review petitions had been filed in the first place and on whose orders it had been done. He added that the court’s time had been wasted and the decision had still not been implemented.
Petitions by the Intelligence Bureau and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority were withdrawn just days before the hearings were to begin.
Reports in recent days had indicated that the government’s main petition, filed through the Ministry of Defence, could also be withdrawn during the hearing.
Other petitioners include the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Election Commission of Pakistan, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the-then Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and politician Ejazul Haq.
Rashid’s lawyer has also asked for a deferment in proceedings as he is now a part of the caretaker cabinet in Balochistan. The lawyer has also told the court that he has been unable to contact Rashid since his arrest earlier this month.
The Faizabad sit-in judgement was announced by now Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa after a suo-motu notice was taken in 2017. The written order was issued in February 2019.
Although the petitions have been in limbo since the time of filing, the matter was immediately fixed for hearing when the new chief justice assumed office.
The judgement had instructed the defence ministry and chiefs of the army, navy and air force to penalise personnel under their command who were found to have violated their oath.
Justice Isa began the hearing by clarifying that the bench was not a ‘special bench’ and the reviews were only being heard by a different bench because one judge from the original bench had retired.
Attorney General Mansoor Awan came to the rostrum and announced that the federal government wished to withdraw its review petition. However, he did not provide a reason even when the chief justice asked him to. However, he later said that the petition had been filed by a different government.
The CJP noted that Sheikh Rasheed’s lawyer could not represent him as he had become a minister, but he added that Rashid should hire a new lawyer.
The lawyer for PEMRA also said that they no longer wished to pursue the case. However, when the chairman of PEMRA came up, CJP Isa remarked that the petitions had argued that the judgement was full of mistakes so there must be a reason for them being withdrawn. He also remarked that many people formerly associated with PEMRA complained on TV and YouTube that their petitions were not heard.
When Ejaz-ul-Haq’s lawyer appeared, the chief justice remarked that the judgement had mentioned politicians but Haq seemed to have assumed that he was the subject of the remarks.
When the ECP’s lawyer told the court that they too wished to withdraw their petition, Justice Isa remarked that the court’s time had been wasted. He also said that the ECP had claimed there were issues in the judgement and asked the lawyer if they were wrong then or now.
He added that the ECP was a constitutional body and such bodies should receive respect. He added that institutions could be destroyed if such an attitude was kept up.
“If this verdict was implemented at that time, then serious incidents would not have taken place later,” the CJP observed while hearing a set of review petitions challenging the apex court’s verdict.
At one point during the hearing, AGP Awan read out aloud the 2019 verdict of the Faizabad sit-in.
“After this sit-in, many other similar incidents emerged. If this verdict was implemented at that time, then serious incidents would not have taken place later,” the chief justice observed.
To this, the AGP assured the court that the federal government would “move in the right direction by acting upon 17 directives given in the verdict”. The CJP then recalled a Quranic verse, wherein he said it had been urged to stand with those speaking the truth.
The court then adjourned the hearing until November 1 and asked the parties to submit arguments in writing by October 27.
Action against signatories
Justice Faez Isa also asked if the judgement issued by the court asking for action to be taken against armed forces personnel to penalise officials who had violated their oath had been implemented.
He remarked that the court should be given an assurance that action will be taken against the people who signed the agreement with TLP in the 2017 sit-in or the matter would continue until the next episode of chaos.
He added that the events of May 12 had introduced the container into Pakistan’s politics, but no one had appeared in court from the MQM.
The chief justice added that the judgement carried 17 instructions whose implementation would set things in the right direction. He added that there had been more events since the judgement which could have been prevented if the decision had been implemented.
He also said that by withdrawing petitions, the petitioners had made an admission that the decision was correct.