LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar constituted a larger bench on Monday to decide whether a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) could be formed at the trial stage of the case. The bench headed by CJP Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing an application of Bisma Amjad, an aggrieved woman regarding the 2014 killings in the Model Town incident. The chief justice announced that a larger bench would be constituted to decide this law point and also the fate of the appeal on behalf of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT). Shehbaz Sharif’s counsel Azam Tarar appeared on his behalf and sought more time from the court to prepare his arguments. The larger bench would hear this application at principal seat in Islamabad on December 5. The five-judge larger bench, including Justice Nisar and Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, will hear the case from December 5. Further, the chief justice said the bench will include representatives from all provinces. Earlier, the bench on November 17, had issued notices to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif and 137 others including parliamentarians and police officials. During the hearing of this application on Monday, counsel of former PM Nawaz Sharif and other respondents appeared and pointed out that the statements of more than 50 witnesses had already been recorded in the private complaint moved on behalf of Idara Minhajul Quran, affiliated with PAT in this case. The counsel also said that an appeal on behalf of PAT had already been filed before the Supreme Court challenging a decision of the Lahore High Court in this case. He also sought time to advance arguments on the point of new JIT. PAT Chief Dr Tahirul Qadri and PAT Secretary General Khurram Nawaz Gandapur appeared before the court. Dr Tahirul Qadri said before the bench that there had been no progress in the proceedings on a private complaint before an anti-terrorism court. He submitted that one of the suspects former inspector general of Punjab police Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera had secured a stay from the LHC against summons by the trial court. Later the stay was withdrawn after which all the witnesses were testified afresh. Dr Qadri requested to constitute a new JIT as there would be no harm in doing so. The other parliamentarians and bureaucrats nominated as accused by the PAT include Punjab Opposition Leader Hamza Shehbaz, former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar, former defence minister Khawaja Asif, former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, former information minister Pervaiz Rashid, former state minister Abid Sher Ali, Punjab former law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, former personal secretary to chief minister Syed Tauqir Shah, former home minister Azam Suleman and former Lahore commissioner Rashid Mahmood Langrial. The alleged accused police officers included former IGP Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera, former deputy inspector general operations Lahore Rana Abdul Jabbar and former security superintendent of police Salman Ali Khan. Earlier on September 26, a full bench of the LHC with a majority decision of two to one, had dismissed two criminal revision appeals challenging a trial court’s decision on a private complaint by PAT to the extent of non-summoning of 12 accused including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s leaders and bureaucrats. A total of 14 persons were killed and over 100 injured during an “anti-encroachment” operation outside Model Town residence of Dr Qadri on June 17, 2014. On March 3, 2016, PAT and Minhajul Quran top persons had filed a private complaint seeking trial of Nawaz Sharif, former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif, federal ministers Saad Rafique and Khawaja Asif and others accusing them of the “murder of innocent PAT workers in June 2014”. The trial court had partially accepted PAT’s plea and summoned Mushtaq Sukhera and others. The court had dismissed PAT’s plea seeking trial of all these officials. The inquiry report, prepared by Justice Baqir Najfi commission, said that police tried to cover up the facts regarding who gave orders to open fire on protesters. It adds that no legal opinion was sought from the Punjab advocate general prior to the start of the operation. The commission, in its report, also stated that on the ground, the standoff continued the whole night, resulting in minor injuries to police constables as well as PAT workers. The commission observed, “The level of cooperation in digging out the truth is that no police official from top to bottom, whether actively participated in the operation or not, did utter a single word about the person under whose command the police resorted to firing upon the PAT workers.” Published in Daily Times, November 20th 2018.