Islamabad (HRNW): Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar questioned authorities on Friday over the law banning protests in the federal capital’s high-security Red Zone. Hearing a suo motu notice of police action against journalists yesterday, the chief justice ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident. Chief Justice Nisar directed Sessions Judge Sohail Nasir to probe the incident within 10 days and ordered all involved parties to appear before the inquiry commission. The top judge also directed the capital’s deputy commissioner to explain the imposition of Section 144 — which bans public gatherings — in the capital.
During the hearing, the chief justice observed that the police will claim that rallies are banned in the Red Zone, adding that the journalists did not have riot gear such as slingshots and sticks. Appearing before the court, Islamabad Inspector General of Police Sultan Azam Temuri said as per law a no-objection certificate is required for taking out rallies in the capital, explaining that the police force respects journalists. He added that the police asked journalists not to proceed to the Red Zone. When asked by the chief justice if the journalists turned violent, the police chief explained that the protesters attempted to break the police cordon towards Parliament.
Temuri said further that the incident will also be probed by the police. Chief Justice Nisar then remarked that the journalists’ protest was peaceful, adding that it is not appropriate to use force against women and peaceful protesters. Don’t know where respect for our sisters has gone, he lamented further. On Thursday, Chief Justice Nisar took notice of police action against protesting journalists. The members of the media fraternity were marching to mark the International Press Freedom Day. They were attempting to enter Parliament from D-Chowk but were stopped by police which led to a tussle. Journalists wanted to present a charter of demands in Parliament and included local as well as foreign journalists. Members of various associations and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists were also part of the protest.