LAHORE: A Lahore High Court full bench is set to announce on Tuesday its verdict on whether the report of a judicial inquiry into the 2014 Model Town incident should be made public, reported a private media outlet.
Headed by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh, the three-judge bench had on November 24th reserved its judgement on an intra-court appeal moved by the Punjab government challenging a single bench’s decision to release the report. Other two members of the bench are Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmad.
Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, the single bench judge, had on September 21st ordered the government to release the inquiry report, which had been withheld since Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, the inquiry judge, handed it over to the Punjab chief secretary in 2014.
The heirs of those killed or injured in the Model Town incident had filed petitions before the single bench for making the report public.
The provincial government, through its home secretary, challenged the decision claiming its privilege whether to release the report or not. Moreover, the government took a plea that public order would be at risk if the report was released.
The provincial government’s private counsel, Khwaja Harris, also questioned the single bench’s decision on technical grounds, saying that legal requirements had not been fulfilled before deciding the case. He complained that the single bench had not listened to the government’s view and decided the case in haste.
Advocate Harris argued that release of the “Najafi report” would open trial in media parallel to trial proceedings pending before courts. He said the Model Town inquiry report had become a “dead document” as its purpose stood exhausted.
On the other side, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, Advocate Khwaja Tariq Rahim and Advocate Azhar Siddique advanced arguments on behalf of the heirs and in favour of the single bench’s judgement.
They said the government had been wrongly claiming that release of “Najafi report” would prejudice the trial of any person or obstruct the administration of justice. They said the report was not binding upon any person and was for the information of people as it was for the investigators/prosecutors as well as the trial court to rely on its contents or not. They mainly based their arguments on right to information, terming it the mother of all fundamental rights.
Before closing the hearing, the full bench observed that it would consider possible physiological effects on society and trial judges while deciding whether the report of the judicial inquiry should be made public or not.