Supreme Court rules May 9 riots took place due to non-implementation of Faizabad verdict

“Top court acknowledges manipulation resorted to in Supreme Court by not fixing petitions,” CJP observes

A policeman walks past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad, Pakistan. — AFP/File
  • Faizabad judgment traced history of orchestrated violent protests: SC.
  • Says concerns expressed 5 years ago disregarded by successive govts.
  • Order says violence perceived as permissible means to attain goals.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has observed that due to the non-implementation of its 2019 Faizabad sit-in judgment by successive governments, the nation suffered consequences in the shape of the May 9 events.

The observations came as a three-member bench — headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Athar Minallah — issued a written verdict of the November 15 hearing of the Faizabad sit-in case.

Referring to the days-long sit-in staged by the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in 2017, the four-page order authored by CJP Isa noted that the February 2019 Faizabad judgment traced the history of orchestrated violent protests in Pakistan and sounded a warning for the future.

“However, the concerns expressed by us almost 5 years ago were disregarded by successive governments. Review petitions and applications were filed and these were not fixed for hearing, which hindered the Judgment’s implementation,” it added.

The verdict further noted that no responsibility was affixed, nor was anyone held accountable for the violence of the past.

“It is not surprising that violence continued to be perceived as a permissible means to attain one’s goals. Victims of those striving for an independent judiciary, an inclusive and tolerant Pakistan were disregarded without justice; the nation suffered the consequences, as evident from the recent events of 9 May 2023,” the CJP said in the judgment.

The May 9 events referred to the violent protests that broke out almost across the country following the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in a corruption case from the premises of Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The violent protesters ransacked and attacked the defence and public installations in various parts of the country, prompting the authorities to take stern action against the rioters.

Consequently, dozens of PTI leaders either quit politics or parted ways with the incarcerated party chairman over the ransacking of military installations for what they believed triggered by the confrontational politics of Khan.

Inquiry commission

The same judgment also mentioned that Attorney-General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan informed the top court that the federal government had constituted an inquiry commission under the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 2017.

It said the commission was given a two-month time to complete its investigation. “[…] we expect that it will do so within the allotted time.”

The apex court said every decision of the Supreme Court is binding and must be implemented by all executive authorities as stipulated in Articles 189 and 190 of the Constitution.

Implementation, however, the order said may be forestalled when review petitions and other applications are pending.

Those who were in government when the 2019 judgment was given are no longer in government and the composition of the Election Commission has also changed. “Therefore, it would not be appropriate to hold the present incumbents responsible for the actions/inactions of their predecessors, particularly when they have demonstrated that they want to implement the decision of this Court.”

‘Truth sets one free’

With humility, and setting an example for others to follow, the top court noted that the “manipulation resorted to in the Supreme Court by not fixing the said petitions and applications”.

The Supreme Court endeavours to regain the confidence of the people by acknowledging this, and will be demonstrating that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated, the order added.

“Truth sets one free and makes institutions strong. The people of Pakistan deserve nothing less.”

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