IHC Threatens Legal Action Against Those Violating Bans

In recent news, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has stated that it has become mandatory to implement the suggestions being given by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC). The court believes that due to the rising cases of the coronavirus, it is reasonable to take legal action against those found violating the decisions of the NCOC. 

A petition had also been presented to the court, which challenged the ban placed on marquee halls in light of the second wave of the virus. Dismissing it, the IHC went on to endorse the decisions made by the National Coordination Committee (NCC), such as those to ban public gatherings that included 300 persons or more. Public meetings all over the country have been suspended, including any being held in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) to curb the rising Covid-19 cases. 

An eight-page judgment was passed by the court in response to the petition. The IHC observed that it could not get involved with matters and decisions of the executive. It also stated that people organizing public meetings will be held responsible for loss of life. Moreover, the judge said that legal action will be strictly carried out if the orders of the NCOC were violated. 

The judgment urged people to adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) outlined by the NCOC, keeping in mind that the second wave of the coronavirus has swooped in on the country. Athar Minallah, the Chief Justice of IHC, went on to say that the trying times of coronavirus are an opportunity for political parties to leave their differences aside. He believes that this is the time for all to be united in the fight against the pandemic. 

Earlier, the attorney general had submitted a report to the court. It clearly stated that the NCOC had placed a ban on outdoor gatherings that consisted of 300 or more people. Various other decisions had also been taken by the center. 

Additionally, the report indicated that it would fall on organizers to ensure that SOPs are being implemented to the full, as they will be liable if the virus spreads or causes loss of life. 

The NCOC has also instructed that indoor events be suspended until further notice. However, they have allowed outdoor events given that there are no more than 300 guests present. The report further outlined that indoor dining has been permitted for the time being but, this matter will be revisited in the next week. The command center encouraged the public to make use of takeaway and outdoor dining options. 

Furthermore, part of the report said that the Federal Education and Professional Training Division will be consulted with, before an early winter vacation could be granted. This meeting will be conducted in the presence of representatives of each province, who will gather together in a week’s time. 

The Chief Justice added that the court trusts the steps being taken by the NCOC, as it comprises of experienced people. He also observed that people shout restrict their social activities while the number of people infected is on the rise once again.