LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday dissolved the third joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe the 2014 Model Town incident in which as many as 14 workers of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek were killed and scores of others injured during clashes with the police.
According to details, the newly-formed team was constituted on January 3, 2019, for a fresh probe into the incident following a notification issued by the Punjab chief secretary.
During Friday’s hearing, the LHC ordered the new JIT to stop its investigation and annulled the notification of its constitution. The court has sought a reply from the Punjab government regarding the new JIT.
The case is being heard by a three-member bench led by Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan.
Prior to the court’s ruling, Punjab Advocate General Ahmed Awais expressed distrust on the bench. He said the LHC staff did not bother to inform the Advocate General Office about “one of the most important cases in 100 years”.
The Punjab advocate general warned that he would walk out of the court if not heard properly. At this, bench member Justice Malik Shehzad Ahmed asked if he wanted to pressurise the court. The judge warned Awais to lower his voice otherwise a contempt of court notice will be issued against him.
The court asked the advocate general to challenge the verdict at the relevant forum. At this, the advocate general walked out from the court hearing.
Lawyers of Inspector Rizwan and Constable Khurram Rafique argued that the Supreme Court had given no order regarding the new JIT. They asked the court to dissolve the new JIT and stop its investigation which could affect the Model Town case.
In Jan 2019, the Punjab government had constituted a third JIT to probe the Model Town incident. The team was headed by Inspector General of National Highways & Motorways Police (NH&MP) AD Khwaja.
It is pertinent to mention here that the first JIT was headed by then Punjab IGP Arif Mushtaq some 15 days after the incident. The second JIT formed on Nov 17, 2014, had exonerated Punjab’s former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and law minister Rana Sanaullah from charges of ordering or abetting the police action.
A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then chief justice Saqib Nisar, had disposed of the suo motu notice on Dec 5, 2018, after the PTI government apprised the bench that a new JIT was going to be formed to investigate the case.