The Sindh High Court on Wednesday restrained police from taking action against people nominated in a first information report filed on the complaint of the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC), following the protest outside the board’s office on August 31.
The order will remain effective until the next court hearing, scheduled for September 24.
A two-member bench gave the order during the hearing of a petition filed by a group of people who said they were being harassed by the police on the basis of the FIR registered against them.
The petitioners told the court that the CBC had filed an FIR against them for staging a peaceful demonstration outside its office on August 31. The demonstration, they said, was organised to protest the authorities’ slackness in removing rainwater from roads in DHA and Clifton, despite the passage of several days since the heavy monsoon rains.
The court also issued notices to the investigation officer and other respondents for the next hearing. In a written order released later, the bench said that the investigation officer, who was present in court, “has not been able to justify applicability of Sections 147 and 148 PPC on the facts disclosed in the FIR”.
It further said that Sections 353 and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code are “non cognisable offences and the police have no authority to lodge FIR there under”.
The court, however, directed the investigation officer to continue the inquiry and submit a report in the court.
The FIR, filed on a CBC’s official complaint, was registered against 22 named and other unidentified protesters who participated in the hours-long protest on August 31. Pre-arrest bail was granted to at least 22 people who protested outside the CBC last week against the lack of action by the departments concerned.
The CBC lodged the case against them on charges of “ransacking” its office, using “inappropriate language” against state institutions, spreading fear, harassing officials and creating hindrances in official work, according to the contents of the FIR.
The FIR included Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 148 (rioting), 147 (punishment for rioting), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of the PPC on the complaint of Munawar Hasan, building and security supervisor of the CBC.
Another petition filed by the residents of Clifton and Defence Housing Authority (DHA) against the administrations of the housing societies for their “abject failure to perform basic duties is also being heard by the Sindh High Court.