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LAHORE: A larger bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday directed the counsel for petitioners to file written replies of two applications of the Punjab government in defence of the new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the 2014 Model Town killings incident.

The court also directed the law officer to come up with arguments on the ex-post-facto approval of the JIT and its legal effect. The bench also directed the law officer to present the record of the JITs constituted in the past at the similar stage of the case in hand and adjourned the proceedings till October 05.

Before rising, the bench directed the petitioners’ counsel to address on the next hearing the questions whether there was any direct order by the apex court for the formation of the JIT and whether a new investigation could be permitted at this stage of the trial.

Khurram Rafiq and other police officials facing trial in a private complaint of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) filed the petitions in 2019.

Earlier the counsel of the petitioners Azam Nazir Tarar said that there were no documents on record when the advocate general had given undertaking before the Supreme Court on December 12, 2019, to form the JIT. He said the government even failed to furnish any documents regarding the formation of the JIT when asked by the LHC on Jan 20, 2020.

However, he said, the government surprisingly came up with a new response before the larger bench in September saying an oral approval had been sought from the cabinet before approving the constitution of the JIT ex-post-facto (retrospectively).

Tarar argued that the matter was very sensitive as it entailed death penalty and such fraudulent conduct of the government could not be tolerated.

He urged the bench to initiate contempt proceedings against the officers concerned of the government.

The Chief Justice asked the counsel that it would be appropriate to file his written reply to the government’s applications.

Advocate Azhar Siddique, on behalf of the victims of the incident, raised objection to the arguments of Tarar against the government’s applications. However, the chief justice observed that the court was yet to issue a notice on the applications and rose till next hearing.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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