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LHC formed two-judge bench to hear Sahiwal encounter

25 January, 2019

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The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday formed a two-judge bench to hear a petition seeking judicial inquiry into the Sahiwal ‘encounter’ and summoned joint investigation team (JIT) to appear before the court along with all relevant record on January 28.

As the hearing started, the petitioner’s counsel told the court that the statements of all witnesses had not been recorded, upon which Chief Justice Sardar Shamim Ahmed Khan asked Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Amjad Saleemi about the progress made so far in the investigation. The IGP told the court that the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officials who took part in the encounter had been arrested and a joint investigation team had been formed to probe the incident.

“How long will the inquiry take?” Justice Khan inquired. Saleemi replied that a detailed probe would require ‘at least’ 30 days. “The CTD officials [who were involved] have also been suspended,” he added. “IG sahab, this is very cruel,” Justice Khan said at one point. “Tell me, how do police have the authority to spray someone with bullets?” he asked, and warned that such an incident should not take place anywhere in Punjab again. “Tell all your district police officers,” he asserted.

While hearing the petition, the chief justice pointed out that forming a judicial commission is the prerogative of the federal government, not the provincial government. The petitioner responded that a request in this regard has already been submitted to the federal government.

The chief justice summoned the head of the JIT, Additional Inspector General Ijaz Hussain Shah, along with complete record of the findings in the next hearing to be held on Jan 28. The JIT had presented a preliminary report on its investigation earlier this week, in which it held the CTD officials responsible for the killings of three ‘innocent’ family members.

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