LHC summons officials over clerics’ protest against Aasia Bibi’s release

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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has said the clerics protesting on The Mall against the possible release of Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case have obstructed the process of law by blocking the way of the judges to reach courts.

This has been stated in a written order by LHC Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi, who took suo motu action against the blockade of Mall Road by religious activists.

The judge has summoned Lahore DIG Dr Haider Ashraf, Chief Traffic Officer Tayyeb Hafeez Cheema and Lahore DCO Muhammad Usman to explain why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them, and they be punished accordingly.

Different religious groups continued to protest on Mall Road for a second day on Thursday, demanding the Supreme Court to uphold the death sentence for the blasphemy convict.

In his written order, Justice Lodhi stated a group of people armed with sticks caused a massive traffic jam on Mall Road and in front of the Punjab Assembly. This disturbance caused hindrance to the LHC judges, including Justice Lodhi himself who found it difficult to commute to the court for judicial work.

“No one from the district administration or police authorities was available for assistance to the public or to control the miscreants at the scene,” he stated. “This is a clear act of contempt of court as the judges of the LHC had to use other routes to reach the LHC.”

The judge stated the authorities responsible to ensure smooth flow of traffic and deal with miscreants failed to perform their duties that resulted in obstruction in the process of law and disturbed the decorum of the court.

On November 2, 2011, the court had issued an order banning any blockades on Mall Road.

Justice Lodhi said the high court’s directions were not only disobeyed but also disregarded and all responsible people should be dealt with under the provisions of Contempt of Court Act, 2012.

The bench further ordered the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to inform the court within five days what steps were taken by him in compliance of court’s earlier directions.

The judge also issued contempt of court notice to DCO Usman for not appearing before the court on the ‘false’ plea of being busy in a cabinet meeting.

The religious activists, who started their protest on Wednesday, kept the road blocked at Charing Cross, causing severe traffic jams on the adjoining roads. In fiery speeches, the leaders of the protesters continued threatening the Supreme Court and thegovernmentby using loud speakers, which is banned under the National Action Plan against terrorism.