ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will Monday (today) take up a petition challenging the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) against Imaan Zainab Hazir daughter of federal minister Shireen Mazari and some Baloch students of Quaid-e-Azam University for staging protest outside the National Press Club (NPC).

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah will conduct hearing of the petition, moved by Imaan Zainab Hazir wherein, he had previously restrained the police from harassing her and the Baloch students or causing arrest pursuant to registration of the FIR registered in the federal capital for staging protest outside the National Press Club.

The court had also directed the Ministry of Interior secretary, chief commissioner, Islamabad Capital Territory, Inspector General of Police, Islamabad and the Ministry of Human Rights secretary to appear before the court on the next hearing to be held on Monday (today).

The IHC bench further directed them to justify the excessive force, used against peaceful young citizens followed by registration of a criminal case. “They are expected to satisfy the Court, having regard to the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution. In case they fail to satisfy the Court, then they are expected to identify the officials responsible for violating the rights of members of a peaceful assembly and the mode for ensuring their accountability,” added the bench.

In this matter, the petitioner, Imaan Zainab Mazari invoked the jurisdiction of the court under Article 199 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and asserted that the respondents had misused their powers in order to suppress voices of dissent and the right to hold peaceful protest.

She asserted that students of the Quaid-e-Azam University, mostly belonging to the province of Balochistan had arranged a peaceful meeting near the NPC to raise their voice and to register their protest against the alleged enforced disappearance of one of the students, Hafeez Baloch.

Mazari further asserted that the respondents had transgressed their powers by using excessive force to disperse the peaceful protestors. She alleged that several participants of the peaceful assembly had received injuries.

During the hearing, Senior Superintendent of Police, Faisal Kamran confirmed that a criminal case was registered under section 120-B, 147, 149, 186, 188, 353, 500 and 504 of Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 and a copy of the FIR was also submitted.

The bench said that a plain reading of said FIR shows that, prima facie, the public functionaries have abused powers vested in them merely to disperse a peaceful assembly of young citizens, mostly students belonging to the province of Balochistan.

Justice Athar said that such abuse of power is intolerable in a society governed under the Constitution. He noted that it is seditious to suppress voices of dissent or to discourage raising grievances against the State, its institutions or the public functionaries. Moreover, young citizens, particularly belonging to the province of Balochistan ought to be encouraged by the State and public functionaries to express themselves and to create an enabling environment so that they may participate in political debates, uninhibited and without any fear.