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CJP Seeks Explanation for Banning Public Gatherings in Capital’s Red Zone

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday directed the deputy commissioner to explain the imposition of Section 144 — which bans public gatherings — in the capital.

He interrogated the authorities over the law banning protests in the federal capital’s high-security Red Zone.

While hearing the suo moto notice of police action against journalists on Thursday, the CJP ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident within 10 days and ordered all involved parties to appear before the inquiry commission.

During the hearing, Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sultan Azam Temuri said that the police respect journalists but as per law a no-objection certificate (NOC) is required for taking out rallies in the federal capital. He also said that the journalists were warned by the police to not proceed towards 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. The CJP observed that the protesting journalists did not have riot gear such as slingshots and sticks, meaning that the protest was meant to be peaceful, adding that using force against women protestors was not appropriate.

On Thursday, CJP took notice of police action against protesting journalists– belonging to local and foreign media outlets– who were participating in a rally to mark the World Press Freedom Day.

According to media reports, the police stopped the rally at D Chowk, which was followed by a “clash” between the police and journalists.

The journalists were marching towards the parliament to present their charter of demands. Following the “clashes”, they, however, staged a sit-in in the area which made the chief justice of Pakistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, to take a notice of the incident. The CJP ordered the capital administration, police and the advocate general to present reports explaining the incident.

Published here.