The Punjab government on Tuesday chose to make public the Justice Najafi inquiry report following a Lahore High Court judgment instead of challenging the verdict in the Supreme Court as it assessed that the compliance would be less troublesome for it than the hassle of the appeal, say official sources.
The decision to obey the LHC decision was made by the political leadership during a high-level meeting after the LHC issued the direction. It was reportedly attended by the PML-N leadership, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, secretaries of the home and other departments concerned and the government’s legal advisers.
The court had earlier in the day ordered the government to immediately give the report to the respondents (affectees of the June 17, 2014, Model Town incident) and make it public within 30 days.
But official sources said the report was made public before it was shared with the defendants so that the government could have ample time to defend itself against any onslaught from its opponents. It would have left the government on the receiving end, had the report contents been revealed to the public solely by the recipients (the Pakistan Awami Tehrik), they said.
The high-ups reached the conclusion that there was no use of hiding the report anymore.
“Let the people know what it is about,” was the reported decision.
A PAT delegation led by its secretary general, Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, visited the home department in the afternoon to get a copy of the judicial inquiry report but was reportedly told it was being uploaded on the official website of the DGPR (directorate general of public relations) and could be downloaded from there. However, it could not be downloaded by many as the website crashed under the rush of the report seekers.
Official sources said the government had time and again assessed implications of the inquiry report ever since it had received it from the LHC in 2014. They claimed it was also discussed in a meeting of the PML-N main leaders.
They said the government had its own justifications for not making it public before the LHC direction. The legal reason was that the inquiry was ordered by the provincial government under Punjab Tribunals of Inquiry Ordinance 1969 for its own consumption. Under the law such inquiries were executive in nature and the government orders them to know what went wrong in handling an incident so as to take remedial measures for future.
The political reason for holding it back was that it would have benefited the opponents like PAT and PTI, who had become active against the government ever since the Model Town incident, the sources claimed.
They said the report was made public after government’s legal advisors, both official and private, found it safe, particularly after the LHC declared that it would not effect the Model Town incident trial.
Official sources said making the report public days after sharing it with the PAT would have allowed Dr Qadri to mount unwanted pressure on the government.
“Let’s see how the government faces its political implications. Comments on the quality of the inquiry report by legal fraternity may come though in the coming days,” a senior official indicated.