Zaman Park violence: Lahore High Court seeks SOPs of JIT

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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday directed the caretaker Punjab government to submit the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of a joint investigation team (JIT) constituted to investigate the cases of violence and attack on police teams outside the Zaman Park residence of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

Headed by Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, a full bench was hearing the petitions by PTI leaders, including Dr Yasmin Rashid, Musarrat Jamshed Cheema and Fawad Chaudhry, challenging the constitution of the JIT.

The bench, at the last hearing, had linked the inquiry by the JIT with the final outcome of the petitions.

Justice Farooq Haider and Justice Muhammad Amjad Rafiq are the other members of the bench.

Responding to the bench’s queries, Punjab IGP Dr Usman Anwar said the federal government nominated two representatives of the as many institutions falling in its domain as JIT members. He said the JIT would have not survived if the government had not nominated its members.

The IGP said the Zaman Park JIT had been formed under the same procedure adopted in dozens of cases, including the one of Pathan Kot incident.

An additional secretary for home told the court that the government did not nominate representatives from the intelligence agencies but the agencies proposed their officers for the JITs.

Asked about the SOPs of the JIT, the IGP said all members of the investigation team were free to give their independent opinions. He said the investigation of the cases was beyond the scope of a station house officer, therefore, the government formed the JIT.

He assured the bench of fair and free investigation in the cases.

A government’s law officer pointed out that the petitioners had not so far joined the police investigation and were hiding behind the court’s proceedings.

The bench directed the government to submit complete SOPs of the JIT on Friday (today).

The petitioners submitted that the police registered politically motivated cases against the PTI leaders and constituted an illegal JIT for the investigation. They said the police unlawfully inserted provisions of the anti-terrorism law in the cases.

They asked the court to set aside the notification of the formation of the JIT and also the call-up notices issued to them and other leaders of the PTI.

The home department had formed a six-member JIT with SSP Imran Kishwar its convener.

Other members include SP Aftab Phularwan and one each representative from three intelligence agencies.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2023