Plea against Fazl’s ‘Azadi March’: Political protests can’t be controlled through judicial orders: LHC – Pakistan

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday observed that political protests and sit-ins were part of a democratic system and that those activities could not be controlled by court orders.

Upon hearing a petition against the establishment of the private force (Ansar-ul-Islam) by the head of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman and the announced "Azadi March", Judge Muhammad Ameer Bhatti observed also that political parties were supposed to hold protests and the government's job was to deal with such activities.

The judge asked the petitioner's lawyer under what law the court could order the government to prevent people from participating in the protest or in the sitting in question.

The lawyer Nadeem Sarwar, the lawyer, argued that the protest announced by the JUI-F was aimed at overthrowing an elected government, which he said was an "unconstitutional act."

"Governments are not expelled through a long march or political slogans," Judge Bhatti observed, referring to the long-term protests held in the past.

"If the courts restricted any sitting in the past," the judge asked the lawyer and reminded him that the court would not approve any orders that were not practical.

Deputy Attorney General Israr Elahi opposed the petition and said the government would deal with protesters under the law.

The judge also noted that the petitioner approached the court by simple apprehensions.

The judge adjourned the hearing until October 29 and ordered the law officer to present instructions from the government.

The petition presented by a citizen claimed that no private organization could function as a military organization, since it was a crime under the Private Military Organizations Act (abolition and prohibition), 1974.

In addition, he said Maulana Fazlur Rehman was using innocent children from religious seminars for his political reasons against the government. He said the defendant party had also been spreading hatred against a democratically elected government through provocative speeches, which could cause chaos in the country.

The petition alleged that the dharna (sitting) announced by the defendant was also a violation of the fundamental rights of citizens, including rights of representation, life and free movement.

He asked the court to declare that the creation of a "private army" was unconstitutional and to order the federal government to take severe measures under the law against the defendant party and its chief.

He urged the court to enforce the right to political justice and prevent the defendant from celebrating the march and feels in Islamabad as unconstitutional, undemocratic and prohibits him from using seminary students. He also sought an address for the government to begin the process of legislation to regulate sit-ins and protests.

Posted on Dawn, October 23, 2019



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