LAHORE: The abrupt decision of a one-man judicial tribunal comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najfi, holding an inquiry into the Model Town incident in Lahore, of holding the proceeding in his chamber on Friday cast serious doubts over its performance among the audience waiting for him in his court room.
The court room was filled to its seating capacity by 2pm with expectations to attend the proceedings of the tribunal. However, it was 2:10 pm when the registrar of the tribunal called medical superintendent of Jinnah Hospital and sent him to the chamber of the judge.
After seven minutes, the registrar called additional IG Altaf Hussain and sent him into the chamber of the judge as well. When he came out of the court room, the registrar of the tribunal made an announcement saying that the proceedings of the tribunal were adjourned till July 9, which the audience – comprising lawyers, members of civil society and journalists – expressed reservations over.
Abdullah Malik, a member of the civil society who used to appear before the tribunal for its assistance since the tribunal had started, told The Express Tribune that the judge must have come into the court room to issue the order of the day.
He said the act of the tribunal shocked them, adding that the act made its proceedings doubtful.
Malik said the aggrieved party had already expressed no confidence in the tribunal, thereby it should act clearly and carefully – not only to establish its impartiality, but also to establish the authenticity of its proceedings.
Malik said on the request of the tribunal, through newspaper advertisements, he used to appear before it. However, if the tribunal continues to go into a huddle with officers of the establishment, he said he would seriously weigh options to not appear before it.
He said on Friday he had valuable points to assist the tribunal, but in vain.
Advocate Rana Ijaz told The Express Tribune that the participants felt negatively about the tribunal’s move, adding that the judge should have at least come into the court room if only to adjourn the proceedings.
He said adjourning the proceedings till five days means that the tribunal also wants to prolong the matter and let it die down.
A journalist, on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that there are already two judicial inquiries pending before two judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC), and no reports have been released in either so far.
He said in May 2013, Justice Ali Akbar Naqvi was appointed as judicial tribunal to hold an inquiry into the killing of Indian spy Sarabjit Singh in jail. In December 2013, Justice Mamoon Rasheed Sheikh was appointed as the inquiry tribunal to investigate the matter of the sectarian clash in Rawalpindi. Both tribunals have not issued any report in these inquiries. Now, a third judge of the LHC is engaged with another inquiry and what can be expected from him?
Advocate Aftab Ahmed Bajwa told The Express Tribune that on Wednesday he had requested the tribunal not to hold proceedings on Friday and Saturday, but he refused saying that they could not stop proceedings. He said on previous Friday the tribunal did not hold the proceedings even after fixing the proceedings for that day.
The public relations department of the LHC issued a statement about the proceedings after 4pm. The statement said CCPO Lahore informed the tribunal that the injured persons have been served notice. The MS Jinnah Hospital has stated that four injured patients cannot come to the court to record their statement as their movements outside the hospital can be dangerous.
The tribunal appointed a district and sessions judge Lahore as a local commissioner to record their bedside statements and to present the record along with his report before this tribunal on July 14, the statement said.
The Additional IGP has submitted the interim report on the fact finding inquiry, according to which the inquiry is underway. He is directed to submit a report about the proceeding against the responsible police officials on July 7.