Justice Munir Commission Report-1954

constituted under
to inquire into the

The Punjab Disturbances Court Of Inquiry,

The Home Secretary To The Government Of
Punjab, Lahore.

Dated Lahore, the 10th April 1954


WE, the President and Member of the Court of Inquiry constituted under the Punjab Disturbances (Public Inquiry) Act, 1953, have the honour to submit the following report:-


In the beginning of March 1953, widespread disturbances broke out in the Punjab which in some places continued till the middle of April 1953. These took so alarming a turn and assumed such a menacing form that in several places the military had to be called in, and in Lahore Martial Law had to be proclaimed, which remained in force till the middle of May 1953. Before the declaration of Martial Law, the police had to resort to firing in several places and at least two persons were killed on the night of 4th March and ten on 5th March, Sixty-six persons more must have been injured in the firing because that number of wounded persons admitted to the Lahore hospitals had gunshot wounds. The number of casualties admitted by the military to have been caused in quelling the disturbances in Lahore was eleven killed and forty-nine wounded. In some other towns also there were a number of casualties caused by firing by the police or the military.

The disturbances were the direct result of the rejection by Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, of an ultimatum delivered to him in Karachi on 21st January 1953 by a deputation of the ulama who had been authorised to do so by the Majlis-i-Amal constituted by the All-Pakistan Muslim Parties Convention held in Karachi from l6th to 18th January 1953. The ultimatum was to the effect that if within a month the Qadiani Ahmadis were not declared a non-Muslim minority and Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan, the Foreign Minister who is an Ahmadi. and other Ahmadis occupying key posts in the State, not removed from their offices, the Majlis-i-Amal would resort to direct action (rast iqdam). At a conference of the Central Ministers and representatives of West Pakistan Provinces held in the early hours of the morning of 27th February it was decided to reject the ultimatum and to arrest the prominent members of Majlis-i-Amal in Karachi and some leaders of the movement in the Punjab. The disturbances commenced immediately after, and as a direct result of, these arrests.

On 19th June 1953, the Governor of the Punjab promulgated Ordinance III of 1953 which, with certain amendments suggested by us, became the Punjab Disturbances (Public Inquiry) Act, 1953, Punjab Act II of 1954, directing the setting up of a Court for holding a public inquiry into the disturbances. In exercise of the powers given by subsection (1) of section 3 of the Ordinance, the Governor appointed us members of the Court of Inquiry with the direction to make an inquiry into the disturbances in accordance with the following terms of reference:-

the circumstances leading to the declaration of Martial Law in Lahore on 6th March 1953;

the responsibility for the disturbances; and

the adequacy or otherwise of the measures taken by the Provincial civil authorities to prevent, and subsequently to deal with, the disturbances.

We commenced the inquiry on 1st July 1953 and held 117 sittings of which 92 were devoted to the hearing and recording of evidence. The evidence was concluded on 23rd January 1954 and arguments in the case lasted from 1st to 28th February 1954. Five weeks were taken by us to formulate our conclusions and in writing the report.

The record consists of 3,600 pages of written statements and 2,700 pages of evidence. Three hundred and thirty-nine documents have been formally exhibited, while a large number of books, pamphlets, journals and newspapers was referred to in the course of the evidence and arguments. Besides, a large number of letters, each extending to several pages and a few to even more than a hundred pages, were received, each of which has been carefully perused by us.

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As the inquiry was to be of a general character and not against any named party, and as the Government of the Punjab had no views in the matter, we adopted a procedure of our own to ensure that all relevant material was placed before us to enable us to discharge our functions under the Act. Subsection (5) of section 5 of the Act had declared that we were not bound by the Provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and in exercise of the powers given to us by the same subsection we framed a rule that we were not to be bound by the Evidence Act. The object of framing this rule was to complete the inquiry within the shortest possible time, consistently with the duty of collecting as reliable and authentic a material for our findings and observations as was possible in the circumstances. Despite this rule, however, we have substantially adhered to the principles of the Law of Evidence and have refrained from recording any serious finding against any party on what under the Law of Evidence is not relevant and admissible. In view of the bulk of the material and the scope and extent of our inquiry, we could not, on occasions, help departing from the rule against hearsay but we have accepted hearsay only where we felt there could be no doubt as to its truth. The parties and some important officers were required to put in written statements but we allowed inspection, of such statements and gave to the party affected the right to recall for cross-examination the makers of such statements. We feel that by adopting this procedure we have eliminated the element of error as far as possible.

In the course of discussion we have referred to numerous extracts from speeches alleged to have been, made by certain persons on specific occasions. These speeches, unless they were published in newspapers or occur in some publication of the party concerned or have been deposed to in the evidence before us, cannot be said to have been formally proved. But the fact that a speech, whether it has or has not been proved, was reported is relevant to determine the adequacy or otherwise of the action taken thereon. .References in the report to speeches should, therefore, be read subject to this observation.

We have quoted in English certain verses of the Holy Qur’an, which were relied upon. by the parties. The translations so quoted have all been taken from Allama Abdulla Yusuf Ali’s Translation of the Holy Qar’an.

We took judicial notice of the fact that certain persons and organisations were in a position to assist us in returning a reply to the terms of reference. We, therefore, made them parties to the proceedings and directed them to put in written statements expressing their respective views on each of the terms of reference.

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The organisations that wore thus made parties were:-

  • The Punjab Government,
  • The Provincial Muslim League,
  • The Majlis-i-Ahrar,
  • The Majlis-i-Amal appointed by the Majlis-i-Tahaffuz-i-Khatm-i-Nubuwwat, Punjab,
  • The Jama’t-i-Islami,
  • The Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiya, Rabwah.,
  • The Ahmadiya Anjuman-i-Isha’at-i-Islam, Lahore.

During the period over which the inquiry extends, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar was the Governor of the Province till 26th November 1951 when he was succeeded by Mr. I. I. Chundrigar who held that office till after the proclamation of Martial Law. Except for a few months when Mr. Fida Hasan occupied that post, Hafiz Abdul Majid was the Chief Secretary to the Government of the Punjab. He was also the Home Secretary from 30th September to 7th December 1951. Sayyad Ahmad Ali and Mr. Ghias-ud-Din Ahmad were Home Secretaries, the former from 17th March 1949 to 30th September 1951 and the latter since 7th December 1951. Mr. Qurban Ali Khan was the Inspector-General of Police till 11th February 1953, on which date he was relieved by Mr. Anwar Ali who, in addition to the duties of Inspector-General of Police also continued to perform the duties of his original office of Deputy Inspector-General of Police, C. I. D. Hafiz Abdul Majid, Mr. Ghias-ud-Din Ahmad, Mr. Anwar Ali, Mr. S. N. Alam, Sayyad Ijaz Husain Shah and Mirza Naeem-ud-Din—the last three during the relevant period were respectively the Deputy Inspector-General, Lahore Range, District Magistrate, Lahore and Senior Superintendent of Police, Lahore—who in the ordinary course of their official duties were supposed to have firsthand knowledge of the origin and development of the disturbances, were also required to submit their written statements on the terms of reference. The police officers mentioned above were further required to state the quantity of the ammunition actually issued and used during the disturbances and the number of casualties caused by police firing. Sayyad Ijaz Husain Shah was directed to give a complete statement respecting the Magistrates who were daily detailed for duty during the disturbed period, the instructions issued to them and the reports, if any, made by them. He was further required to submit copies of all orders promulgated under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, together -with instances of breaches of those orders and the action taken thereon. We also directed him to state whether any requisition for the military under section 129 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was made and with what. result, and if no such requisition was made to give reasons for the omission.

After perusing the statements of these officers, we considered it necessary to require Mian Mumtaz Muhammad Khan Daultana, who was the Chief Minister of the Punjab during the disturbances, to submit a written statement on behalf of his Ministry and to communicate to the Court whether he would like to be made a party to the proceedings. In response to this notice, Mr. Daultana presented a petition praying that he be impleaded as a party. We considered this request quite natural and therefore made him a party and required him to submit a written statement.

As the disturbances had affected the districts of Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Lyallpur, Gujranwala and Montgomery, we directed the District Magistrates and the Superintendents of Police of these districts to submit detailed accounts of the disturbances in their respective districts, the origin and development of the disturbances, the measures taken to suppress them and the offences committed or reported during, and having reference to, the disturbances. together with copies of all first information reports of such offences. These officers were further asked to submit copies of extracts from daily situation reports, special reports and weekly reports, sent by them to Government or any superior authority from 1st January 1953 to 15th May 1953, with reference to the anti-Ahmadiya, agitation and the consequent disturbances. They were requested specifically to mention all instances of incitement to violence on the part of individuals or organisations and to disclose all references concerning the situation made by them to Government and all instructions received by them from Government.

Major-General Muhammad Azam Khan, General Officer Commanding the 10th Division, who constituted himself Chief Martial Law Administrator, was requested to give a complete description of the situation at the time of the proclamation of Martial Law and the reasons which led him to proclaim Martial Law.

The public were notified by advertisements in the newspapers that any person who wished to give evidence before the Court of Inquiry in relation to any of the terms of reference should communicate with the Secretary of the Court, submitting a brief statement of the evidence he proposed to give. This statement was to be kept confidential unless the person submitting it. chose to appear in Court and give viva voce evidence in a public sitting.

As most of the leaders of the movement which led to the disturbances were confined in jails, having either been convicted or ordered to he detained under the Public Safety and Security Acts, we requested the Punjab Government to use its good offices to have such of the prisoners as were confined in jails outside the Punjab, brought to Lahore in order to enable them to instruct their representatives in the preparation of the written statements. The Punjab government acted accordingly and we are glad that the other Governments honoured the Punjab Government’s request and sent such prisoners and detenus to Lahore.

With the exception of the Punjab Government and the Punjab Muslim League, each party has put in an exhaustive statement, and we take this opportunity of expressing our gratitude for the wealth of detail, incident and argument which the parties have embodied in their written statements. Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi, the head of Jama’at-i-Islami, who is under-going a life sentence awarded to him, by a Military Court, has also submitted a written statement in his capacity of ex-Amir of the Jama’at and the written statement of the Jama’at closely follows his statement. Maulana Abdus Sattar Khan Niazi, who also is a prisoner under a similar sentence, applied to be made a party to the proceedings, but on the principle we had adopted in impleading parties, we could not accede to his request and permitted him, if he so chose, to submit a written statement. Accordingly he submitted a statement which covers several hundred pages which we have carefully read.

The written statement of the Punjab Government covers a few lines and merely informs the Court that the Government, has no views on the subject but undertakes to assist the Court by placing before it such material as the Court may require. This undertaking has been discharged in letter and spirit, and but for the promptness with which the Court’s requests for documents and information or other action were attended to, the inquiry would have been indefinitely prolonged. At the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. Fazal Ilahi, counsel for the Punjab Government, reiterated the Government’s stand that it had no views in the matter, but on the basis of the material on record he placed his personal views before the Court in a three-day argument. Though there were not only allegations which we have found to be substantially correct, that there was a complete absence of ideological resistance by the Muslim League to the subversive movement of direct action, but that the officers of the League in several districts took prominent part in the agitation, the written statement submitted on behalf of the Provincial Muslim League is a complete disappointment inasmuch as it contents itself with sending copies of some resolutions passed by the Working Committee or by the Council of the Punjab Muslim League indicating its views on the anti-Ahmadiya agitation.

Subsection (2) of section 5 of the Act gave the Court the power to direct a police officer, not below the rank of a Superintendent of Police, to conduct such investigation as it considered to be necessary for the purpose of the inquiry. We made frequent use of this provision and appointed Mr. Muhammad Husain, Superintendent of Police, C. I. D., to hold investigation into several matters, direct trial of which by the Court would have involved considerable expense and delay. Mr. Muhammad Husain discharged this duty with his usual promptitude and thoroughness.

Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din, who was the Prime Minister, Mr. Chundrigar, who was the Governor of the Punjab, and Sirdar Abdur Rab Nishtar, who was a Minister in the Central Cabinet, during the disturbances, and Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan, the Foreign Minister, Sirdar Bahadur Khan, the Communications Minister, Dr. Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, and Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani, Minister for the Interior, were also examined by the Court at the request of one party or another. Of course, Mr. Daultana offered himself as his own witness. The evidence of all these witnesses was recorded in camera but portions of it were released to the press for publication.


On the doctrinal aspect of the inquiry and other connected religious topics, we examined the leading ulama on the one side and Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad, the present head of the Qadiani section of Ahmadis, on the other. In this part of the inquiry almost every important branch of human knowledge was touched—religion, philosophy, science, ethics, attributes of God, anthropomorphism, reason and revelation, exegetics, cosmology, creation, time and space, origin and destination of man, aim and object of life, functions of the State and the church, sovereignty, democracy and theocracy, subjects, as the sequel will show, by no means irrelevant to the inquiry. The issues under. lying the inquiry, which frequently emerged in all their directness and with all their implications, are so deep and fundamental that a reply to them one way or the other can make or mar the new State of Pakistan and entirely change the future course of her history.

Our thanks are due not only to the Honourable Ministers, past or present, some of whom undertook long journeys to place their views before us but also to officers and the ulama who assisted us throughout this lengthy investigation, Maulana Murtaza Ahmad Khan Maikash, on behalf of the Majlis-i-Amal, Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar on behalf of the Ahrar and Mr. Said Malik on behalf of Jama’at-i-Islami must indeed have worked hard to do the job assigned to them by their principals. It was quite an experience for us to be associated with these learned scholars, an experience novel and exceedingly pleasant, which will live long in our memory. Equally grateful do we feel to the professional gentlemen, Mr. Yaqub Ali Khan, Mr. Nazir Ahmad Khan, Mr. Bashir Ahmad, Mr. Asadullah Khan, Mr. Abdur Rahman Khadim and Mr. Fazal Ilahi who in presenting the cases of their respective clients were a source of great help to us.

With these remarks we approach our statutory task.


After hearing arguments, we agreed between ourselves as to the answers that we should make to each term of reference, and then divided the work so that one of us should deal with general responsibility and the other with administrative action in particular. In the first three Parts, we have given a factual statement of relevant events, thus;

PART I—From the Partition to the All Muslim Parties Convention, held in Lahore on 13th July 1952.
PART 11—From the Convention to 21st January 1953. when the ultimatum was delivered to the Prime Minister.
PART III—From the date of the ultimatum to the end of the disturbances.

Replies to the terms of reference will be found in the last three parts, thus:

PART IV—Circumstances leading to Martial Law.
PART V—Responsibility for the disturbances.
PART VI—Adequacy or otherwise of administrative action by the civil authorities.

For the purposes of Part VI, the period under observation has been divided into four sub-parts, according to the peculiar problem that each sub-division presents.

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Muhammad Munir (1895–1979)-Chief Justice of Pakistan serving from 1954 to 1960

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