LAHORE: Justice Sayyed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday reserved the decision on a petition seeking release of a judicial inquiry report conducted by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi into the killings of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers. Qaiser Iqbal and 19 others family members of the 2014 Model Town incident’s victims had filed this petition. Counsel for the petitioners Barrister Syed Ali Zafar submitted that 14 persons were killed and hundreds wounded by police firing in this incident, which was witnessed live on all TV channels worldwide. He submitted that on the Punjab government’s request the LHC chief justice appointed a judicial tribunal in order to find out the facts and confirm who was responsible for the same. He said that an impartial and independent tribunal after complying with all the formalities submitted a report known as Najafi report to the government. Barrister Ali submitted that the report was in the custody of the provincial government but in spite of lapse of 3 years, it was refusing to make the report public. He submitted that under the Punjab Tribunals of Inquiry Ordinance, 1969, the commission had been given the powers of the civil court and its proceedings classified as judicial proceedings. He pointed out that the legal heirs of the deceased persons were certainly aggrieved parties who had a right under Article 19A of the constitution as well as the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013, and Qanoon-e-Shahadat Order, 1984, to obtain the copy of the Najafi report. He submitted that Article 19A of the constitution ensured fundamental right of every citizen to have access to information in all matters of public interest. He said that releasing of the inquiry report was a matter of public interest and the Punjab home secretary was bound under the law to give the required information to the petitioners. He asserted that this was a case of enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed to the petitioners and to all the members of the public. He pleaded that the public bodies could not hold any public information on their own behalf, but rather they hold it for the benefit of all members of the public. He said that LHC under Article 199 of the constitution was the custodian and protector of fundamental rights, and had the constitutional obligation to direct the government to publish the report as per the original, without any manipulation, tampering or deletions. He sought directions to enforce fundamental rights of the petitioners and order the home secretary of the province to immediately make the report public. The additional advocate general (AAG) on behalf of the Punjab government while opposing the petition said that the Najafi report was only for the benefit of the government and it was not obliged to disclose it. The judge observed that how it was possible that the government itself appointed the commission and had the report made because it was a matter of public importance, and now since the report had been submitted, in spite of being an accused party, the government was refusing to disclose the same. The AAG submitted that the report would not serve any useful purpose, as it was not a judgement. Barrister Ali submitted that the question of ‘what use of the report would have’ was not relevant, as the legal heirs of the deceased were not seeking to use the report but only wanted to have access to it so as to find out how their loved ones died. The judge observed that in this case the government itself was accused of being involved in the commission of murder and hence how could it oppose the disclosure of the report that was lying in its custody. After hearing the arguments, the judge reserved the decision. Published in Daily Times, September 20th 2017.