The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday asked the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to specify a date by which it would remove the blockades from the main road in front of its headquarters.
The three-member bench, however, suspended an earlier Islamabad High Court (IHC) directive to the agency to clear the roadblocks within a week.
On June 22, IHC’s Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had directed the ISI to clear the portion of Khayaban-i-Suharwardy in front of its headquarters in a week.
The defence secretary, in today’s hearing, challenged the high court’s directive, arguing that the IHC did not have the authority or jurisdiction to take up suo motu notices and rule on such matters.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, in agreement with the appellant’s argument, suspended the IHC decision, saying: “The high court does not have the right to take suo motu notices; we suspend its order.”
The chief justice then ordered Deputy Attorney General Nayab Gardezi to ask the ISI why it had erected blockades on Khayaban-i-Suharwardy, a road which is part of Islamabad’s master plan.
“Bring us the master plan and let us know why the road was shut down,” Justice Nisar ordered. “Also tell us when they will remove their blockades.
“We have given the orders against encroachment on public land all over Pakistan, and the ISI is not exempted from it,” he added. “Call the ISI chief. Why has the road not been opened for public use despite court orders? This road has to be opened because it’s causing trouble for the public,” he asserted.
The deputy attorney general cited security issues as the reason for the ISI’s blockage of the thoroughfare. “We will open the road but there are security issues,” he said. “We should be given time for the security concerns to be eliminated.”
“[Also], we closed the road but we also built an alternative, which was also allotted in writing by the Capital Development Authority,” he added.
The case was adjourned until Friday.
This is the second time the SC has taken notice of the matter. In March, Justice Nisar had ordered the CDA to explain why and on whose orders Khayaban-i-Suharwardy had been blocked for the past few years.
“Blocking of main roads in the name of security cannot be allowed,” the chief justice had remarked, adding that everyone is equal before the law.