JIT in Model Town case: Petitioners told to approach LHC CJ for larger bench

LAHORE: A Lahore High Court division bench on Thursday directed the lawyers of the petitioners to approach the chief justice if they wanted to have a larger bench constituted to hear a challenge against the formation of a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into 2014 Model Town firing incident.

A police inspector and other officials facing the trial in the Model Town incident had assailed the new JIT pleading that fresh investigation could not be held into the incident after the indictment of suspects in a case.

During the course of hearing, the petitioners’ counsel Burhan Moazam Malik and others argued that a larger bench should be constituted to hear the matter.

The two-judge bench headed by Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan observed that the power to constitute a larger bench rested with the chief justice of the high court. Therefore, the judge asked the lawyers to approach the chief justice for the required relief.

The bench adjourned further hearing on the petitions for a date to be fixed later.

The petitioners had contended that the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Anti Terrorism Act 1997 did not allow formation of second JIT in the same case. They pointed out that the trial in the Model Town case was at final stage as 86 out of 135 witnesses had testified before the trial court.

They further said a judicial inquiry and a JIT had already investigated the 2014 firing incident.

The petitioners said the Supreme Court in its decision had not ordered constitution of the new JIT but the Punjab government itself agreed to hold a fresh investigation into the incident. They asked the court to declare illegal the government’s act of establishing the new JIT for being in violation of the existing laws.

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