In a written order in the Faizabad review pleas case, the Supreme Court on Monday said that it was providing another opportunity to all parties to submit written affidavits regarding any facts they wished to disclose related to the matter.

In the four-page order — written by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa — the court said that all parties could submit their replies through affidavits by October 27; the next hearing has been scheduled for November 1.

Noting that the Ministry of Defence did not want to pursue its review petition against the original 2019 Supreme Court verdict in the Faizabad case, and that the IB, Pemra and PTI had also requested to withdraw their pleas while Sheikh Rashid — also a petitioner — had requested more time while another petitioner, Ijazul Haq, had raised an objection to one part of the decision, the apex court that “since adjournments have been sought and as certain parties are not in attendance, therefore, they and all are given another opportunity.”

The court order stated that some had “publicly stated that they knew what had happened, yet the judgment did not consider their point of view. This is surprising given that it was noted in paragraph 17 of the judgment that: ‘All the hearings in this case were conducted in open court. We had permitted those aggrieved and those whose interest may be affected to come forward and had also permitted them to file documents and written submission.’ In any event we are providing another opportunity to all to submit in writing through affidavits if they want to disclose facts pertaining to this matter.”

According to the court order, four questions were raised during the hearing in the review case. First, the “non-fixation of these applications for a considerably long period of time”, meaning that the review petitions were not heard for a long time. Second, “the simultaneous filing and reason for filing the said CRPs and applications”, as in why were all the applications for withdrawal filed together? Third, “whether constitutional and statutory bodies acted independently in filing the same” — meaning whether the decision to withdraw the petitions were taken as independent acts. And, fourth, “whether, as asserted by some, the judgment dated 6 February 2019 has been implemented”, asking whether the original decision in the Faizabad sit-in case had been implemented.

It may be noted that in the earlier hearings regarding the review petitions, the court had been informed that the Ministry of Defence, PTI, ECP, IB, and Pemra had decided to withdraw their review petitions, leading Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa to ask during the last hearing: “Why is everyone so scared?”

The Faizabad sit-in case review issue began on April 15, 2019, when the then-federal government, along with the Ministry of Defence, Intelligence Bureau, the then PTI government, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, MQM, and Pemra — among others — had filed review pleas contesting the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Faizabad case delivered by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa on February 6, 2019.

The February 2019 judgment had recommended that those issuing an edict or fatwa to harm another person or put another person in harm’s way must be dealt with an iron hand and prosecuted under the relevant laws. It had also ruled that intelligence agencies must not exceed their respective mandates, while also noting that: “Every citizen and political party has the right to assemble and protest provided such assembly and protest is peaceful and complies with the law imposing reasonable restrictions in the interest of public order. The right to assemble and protest is circumscribed only to the extent that it infringes on the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free movement and to hold and enjoy property.”

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