LAHORE - Today in Lahore High Court, the Punjab government will challenge the decision of Justice Sayyed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi that the Model Town killings report be made public.

On June 17, 2014, as many as 14 people were killed and 100 others injured when police stormed Idara Minhajul Quran in Model Town during an ‘anti-encroachment’ operation.

People ask why the provincial government is reluctant to issue the inquiry report when it denies its legal value. The answer, from the government side, is that publicising Justice Baqir Najafi commission’s report may cause law and order situation. And since the government itself is responsible to maintain the law and order, it just can’t let that happen.

However, there might be many other reasons which are yet unknown; holding up the report to counter the ‘propaganda’ by the PML-N opponents is said to be one of them.

In its appeal fixed for Monday, the government said that the single bench comprising Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi could not determine the point whether the commission appointment was an administrative measure or judicial remedy. It says that ‘the commission proceedings were not judicial’ and it is the main arguments of the appellant beside that the court did not give the government chance to hear its stance.

The home secretary filed an intra-court appeal through Punjab advocate general, pleading at least 8 petitions of the similar nature were pending adjudication before a LHC full bench and in such circumstances, the single bench was not empowered to decide the same issue. The single bench should have referred the same to the full bench, he argued.

He pleaded that “the single bench has made error in law by holding that proceedings before LHC inquiry commission were judicial in nature and ignored the fact that commission report has no of value and does not count as evidence under relevant law.”

Moreover, he added, the proceedings of the commission were not judicial in nature as it was merely a fact finding exercise meant for facilitation of the executive.

The appellant said that sole purpose of the commission was to make recommendation to prevent happening of such incident in future and it was not mandated to fix criminal or civil responsibility on any person.

The commission was appointed by the state for its own information and its report was not meant to share with anyone else, the home secretary maintained.

The government has requested the court to set aside the single bench’s order of releasing the inquiry report.

Besides this key hearing in ongoing political crisis, a contempt petition against Punjab government will also be taken up by the LHC today. Twenty victims of the Model Town incident have moved the petitions that despite court orders, they have not been provided the Justice Baqir Ali Najafi commission’ report. Khwaja Tariq Rahim and Azhar Siddique will represent the petitioners.

Azhar Siddique has also moved the LHC to withdraw a petition pending adjudication before a full bench regarding composition of tribunals/commissions comprising sitting judges to hold judicial inquiries. Thew lawyer said he filed the petition in wake of 2014 Model Town incident and a judicial inquiry held by a LHC judge into the killings of Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s workers.

In his fresh application, he requested permission to withdraw the petition to file it again, if needed.

He said the Punjab government, during the hearing of a petition demanding release of the Model Town inquiry report, told a single bench that the same matter had been pending before the full bench; therefore, it asked the court to refer the matter to the full bench. He claimed that the government misled the single bench as the case before the full bench was relating to the formation of a judicial tribunal, its powers and appointment of a high court judge to hold judicial inquiry.

The lawyer asked the court to allow him to withdraw the petition from the full bench.

The case of former IGP Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera, who is also accused in Model Town incident, has once again been adjourned by a LHC full bench until Oct 27. This case was earlier fixed for hearing almost more than three months ago when the same bench granted stay till this recent hearing by giving him exception from appearing before anti-terrorism court which was trying accused of Model Town tragedy.

ATC judge Muhammad Azam had summoned 127 persons including ex-IGP, DIG Operations, former DCO Lahore and others. The judge had ordered the accused to appear in person and deposit surety bonds of Rs500,000 each. Mushtaq Sukhera's counsel submitted that on private complaint of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), the ATC had issued summons on baseless information provided to the trial court as the petitioner was not holding the office of Inspector General of Police when the incident happened. The counsel also pointed out that PAT chief Tahirul Qadri had filed a private complaint after 21 months of the incident.

He had requested to declare these notices as illegal and unconstitutional. On March 3, 2016, the PAT and Minhajul Quran top persons had filed a private complaint seeking trial of ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, federal ministers Saad Rafique and Khawaja Asif and others accusing them of the ‘murder’ of innocent PAT workers in June 2014.

The trial court had partially accepted PAT’s plea and summoned Sukhera and others while dismissed PAT’s plea seeking trial of the PML-N leaders.

Also last week, the LHC dismissed for not maintainable a writ petition seeking an action under contempt of court law against Maryam Nawaz and interior minister Ahsan Iqbal for their alleged anti-judiciary speeches.

Dismissing the petition, Justice Shahid Karim observed if the Supreme Court had not taken any notice of the alleged scandalous speeches how the high court could do so. The judge further clarified that speeches in public gatherings could not harm the respect of the judiciary.

A citizen, Sadaruddin Ahmad had contended in his petition that Maryam Nawaz and Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal had been using derogatory language against the apex court in public meetings since the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif.  The petitioner pleaded that the act of the respondents amounted to scandalise and malign the institution of judiciary, which required to be dealt strictly under the contempt of court law.

He urged the court to initiate contempt proceedings against Maryam Nawaz and Ahsan Iqbal.