IHC Refuses to Place Ban on Religious and Political Gatherings

On Thursday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC), threw out a plea that sought to place a ban on religious and political gatherings taking place across the country. The plea was presented as a desperate attempt to curb the rise of the coronavirus cases on a daily basis. 

The Chief Justice of IHC, Athar Minallah, presided over this hearing. During the proceedings, he stated that the petition is non-maintainable. 

The plea had stressed that the court should issue an order to put a ban on all religious and political gatherings in the country as the number of coronavirus cases is rising significantly every day. 

The Chief Justice made a couple of remarks and observations as well during the hearing. He said that the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) has announced various guidelines to prevent the rise in the number of cases, however, the public refuses to follow any. He asked why the court should intervene in matters related to the virus when the society was being irresponsible and shrugging off its responsibilities. 

He went on to add that the court has already given the order. The judge also remarked that the executive should be implementing the orders of the court instead of engaging in politics at a time like this. He questioned whether Pakistan is being run as per the rule of law or not. 

Minallah further said that the petitioner should place their faith in the parliament because according to him, there is where the solution lies. 

Moreover, the court decided to reserve its decision where the admissibility of the petition is concerned. It will be announced later. 

Previously, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had already made a decision based on the NCOC’s decisions. They ruled that the decisions of the center will be mandatorily implemented as far as the coronavirus is concerned. The judge had also announced that legal action would follow if anyone was found to be violating the regulations and decisions of the NCOC. 

Earlier, the court had moved to dismiss a petition which challenged the ban that had been placed on marquee halls amid the second wave of the coronavirus. Moreover, the judge had gone on to endorse the decisions made by the National Coordination Committee (NCC). One of these decisions was to place a ban on gatherings that consisted of more than 300 persons. Public meetings across the country had been banned as well, even those in Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). 

The eight-page judgment passed by the court stated that it would not be interfering in the matters of the executive. However, they did add that organizers of these public meetings will be held accountable for the loss of human life. Moreover, the ruling promised strict legal action to be taken against those violating the orders of the NCOC. 

The court went on to urge people to strictly follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) outlined by the NCOC. Minallah also said that this is the time for all political parties to forget their differences and come together.