ISLAMABAD           -         The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday directed the administration of the capital not to impound any loaded container to use it before the JUI-F’s Azadi March.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah issued these directions while hearing a petition against unlawful seizing of loaded containers ahead of Azadi March.

In this matter, the court also observed that seizing loaded containers was violation of Article 18 of the Constitution and no loaded container should be seized.

During the hearing, Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Hamza Shafqat and SSP Traffic Farrukh Rasheed appeared before the court. Justice Athar asked the deputy commissioner if any loaded container was seized on which he replied that they did not impound any loaded container. He added that the containers being used to maintain public order have been obtained through a transparent process and rent is being paid by the government.

The petitioner’s counsel, however, opposed the DC’s stance, saying that they seized their loaded containers and later released them when a senior police officer of SSP rank intervened and asked the officials to release the containers.

Later, the court noted in its verdict, “The detention of containers loaded with commercial goods without the consent of the owners for the purposes of being used to maintain public order is in violation of the Constitution.”

It added, “The federal government is directed to ensure that the lawful transportation of containers loaded with commercial goods owned by the traders are not interfered with or obstructed for extraneous reasons.”

The verdict further said, “The Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory, who has appeared today, has stated that no container loaded with commercial goods owned by a trader has been detained or obstructed within the Islamabad Capital Territory. The instant petition, therefore, stands disposed of with the expectation that public authorities acting on behalf of the State will ensure that the fundamental rights of the public are safeguarded.”

The IHC had summoned the deputy commissioner and SSP Traffic in a petition regarding containers being held for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) march.

The petition was filed by a private company and cited the interior ministry and home departments and inspectors general of police of Punjab and Sindh as respondents.

The transport company moved the court against the forced acquisition of its containers by police for blocking roads ahead of Azadi march.

The lawyer representing Muhammad Safdar Janjua stated that his client was engaged in the business of import and distribution of perishable goods including vegetables and fruits from China.

Police have seized many containers of the company for blocking roads ahead of the Azadi march, the counsel said.

He added that the company was facing heavy losses due to this forced acquisition of containers and claimed that it was a clear violation of the fundamental right under Article 18 of the Constitution.

Therefore, he had prayed the court to issue notices to Deputy Commissioner Islamabad and SSP Islamabad to explain the law under which the containers had been detained.