LAHORE - The Lahore High Court on Monday directed Punjab government to do legislation about protests’ on The Mall to protect the freedom of movement and assembly of the people.

A full bench headed by Justice Aminuddin Khan passed the order while hearing several petitions filed by traders and citizens against protest on The Mall.

The judge directed the provincial government to make law keeping in view Articles 15 and 16 of the Constitution which guaranteed freedom of peaceful movement and assembly.

Justice Shahid Jamil Khan, a member of the bench, however, expressed serious concerns over closure of the main road of the city, observing that why Mall Road was blocked from the Governor House whenever the protests took place at Faisal Chowk—Charring Cross.

A law officer who was representing the government said the protest of the health works on Charring Cross had been ended as their demands had been met.

He said Nasser Bagh had been fixed by the government for the protesters and made basic facilities including water and toilets available for them.

The lawyer said the matter of media coverage had also been taken up by the government as to whether the protesters should be provided the coverage or not.

Answering to a court query about legislation on the issue, the law officer pleaded the bench for some time to submit reply. The bench accepted the plea and directed the government to do legislation on the issue to protect the rights of the citizens and adjourned proceedings until April 19.

The local traders had moved the petitions submitting that the regular sit-ins and protests on the Mall Road had damaged their businesses and caused them problems and to other citizens.

The rallies and sit-ins on the prohibited area had never been stopped despite the clear orders of the court, they said. They said the government made a policy on the issue but could not enforce it.

The petitioners said that a suicide attack was carried out at Charring Cross last year which claimed lives of a number of citizens but the government did nothing to stop the protests at this site.

Petition for protest in Greater Iqbal Park:   A lawyer also moved a petition seeking directives for the provincial government to designate Grater Iqbal Park for protests.  However, Justice Ayesha A. Malik of the LHC sent the same petition to the full bench. 

 

Fida Hussnain