The 2014 Model Town Case, where a violent clash that ensued between the Punjab Police and Pakistan Awami Tehreek activists resulted in several protesters being killed by the police gunfire, is an incident which promises to forever haunt the Punjab government. The case has seen the formation of two Joint Investigation Team (JIT), a report of Inquiry Tribunal by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, and several lower trial court investigations- yet there has not been any satisfactory conclusion reached on who is to be held accountable for the tragedy that took place.

Things do not seem to be getting any clearer. To add to the already piling list of investigations that have taken place surrounding this incident, the Punjab government on Thursday reconstituted a new five-member JIT to further probe the case. Expressing distrust in the earlier JIT reports, Bisma Amjad, who had lost her mother in the 2014 incident, along with PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, had urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan for a new JIT saying that no progress has been made in the case. It should be noted that the first JIT had been disregarded, with Justice Khosa citing the indictment of Punjab IGP Mushtaq Sukera as the cause for all statements to be recorded again. The second five-member JIT, which finalized investigation in May 2015 and exonerated then Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and former provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah from charges of ordering or abetting the police action, now stands disregarded as well.

Thorough investigation and comprehensive inquiry are principles which should be aspired to in criminal cases, we wonder how many more JITs, which require funds and attention of the government, will be formed until the authorities are finally satisfied with the results. The Model Town Incident was heinous- but the public and the State seems to have made up its mind about the guilt of the accused even in the face of contrary investigation results. It seems fundamentally unfair to leave the shadow of the court case hanging above the accused for four years because of never ending and inconclusive investigation. What about the concept of double jeopardy - not directly applicable but analogous - that once a person has been tried and exonerated new proceeding cannot be started lest we keep him in perpetual trial?

The third JIT should be the final evidentiary report on the MT incident- if this case is unnecessarily prolonged, then justice will be delayed for both the victims and the accused.