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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed the concerned authorities to produce the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders, Shehryar Afridi and Shandana Gulzar before it today (Wednesday).

A single bench comprising Justice Babar Sattar, on Tuesday, issued the direction while hearing two separate petitions moved by Shehryar Afridi and Sabahat Gulzar, mother of Shandana Gulzar through advocate Sher Afzal Khan Marwat.

The bench also summoned the district magistrate, Islamabad, chief commissioner Islamabad, deputy commissioner and the inspector general (IG) of Islamabad police to appear before the court in person.

Justice Babar’s written order said that in view of the record presented before the court, it finds it appropriate to hear the district magistrate before passing a substantive order. “Let the district magistrate appear before the court today (Wednesday) to satisfy that the impugned order is in accordance with law and that he is vested with authority under the MPO to pass such order.”

This court has perused the order passed by this court in writ petition 1639 of 2023 dated 02.06.2023, wherein, a declaration has been issued that the district magistrate has acted in an arbitrary fashion and may be liable for disciplinary action, and notwithstanding such damning observations by this court, the district magistrate ICT has issued the impugned order, which is equally devoid of reasons.”

Justice Babar issued show cause notice to the SHO, Police Station Margalla, Islamabad, the DPO, City Zone, Islamabad, SSP (Operations), Islamabad, and the District Magistrate for criminal contempt of court for abuse of authority to obstruct dispensation of justice and cause diversion to the course of justice.

They have been directed to file written replies within 24 hours as to why they should not be punished by the court for obstruction of justice, undermining the fundamental rights of a citizen, and bringing into disrepute the authority and ability of the justice system to dispense justice in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

The IHC judge further said “Let the District Magistrate also bring the record of all the orders that have been passed by him under the MPO over the last three months. The office will issue show cause notices and serve them through special courier.

Let the Chief Commissioner Islamabad and the Inspector General of Police, Islamabad, appear in person before the Court. Let the IGP ICT, Chief Commissioner ICT, Inspector General of Prisons, Punjab, the Superintendent jail, Adyala make appropriate arrangements to ensure that the detenue is produced in the court tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.”

Earlier, the counsel for the petitioner informed the court that this is a 7th order passed by a District Magistrate ordering preventive detention of the petitioner under the West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960 (“MPO”). He stated that initially an order was passed by the same District Magistrate within the Islamabad Capital Territory dated 16.05.2023, which was challenged before this Court and was set aside for being ultra vires the law and the Constitution by order dated 02.06.2023.

Marwat added that in such order this Court had made adverse observations regarding the conduct of the District Magistrate, finding that he exercised his authority in an arbitrary fashion and exposed himself to legal consequences before appropriate forums.

The counsel also stated that the District Magistrate rendered a verbal apology to the court as well. While the petitioner was released from the realm of ICT, he was kept in preventive detention under the MPO in the provinces of KP and Punjab. These orders were also challenged by the petitioner and were set aside by the respective High Courts.

The state counsel also shared with the Court a report and reports issued by police officials on the basis of which the District Magistrate found that the petitioner has incited the public and has caused disturbance to public order. He produced a letter written by the Station House Officer (SHO), Police Station Margalla, Islamabad, dated 08.08.2023 to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), City Zone, Islamabad, and a letter written by the DPO, City Zone, Islamabad, to the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) (Operations), Islamabad, dated 08.08.2023 and a further letter written by the SSP (Operations), Islamabad, also dated 08.08.2023, to the District Magistrate after which the District Magistrate has passed the impugned order on the very same day.

Justice Sattar observed, “It appears from perusal of the record that the impugned order has, prima facie, been passed on the basis of extraneous considerations. The requests initiated by police officials that the State Counsel has read out are bald allegations with no details and including no material on the basis of which jurisdiction could be exercised under Section 3 of MPO. On the basis of such material alone no reasonable person can be satisfied that it is necessary to detain the petitioner while curbing his fundamental rights.”

He added that the impugned order itself states that the petitioner is liable for inciting general public and has been found planning an attack on District Courts Islamabad. This ground is quite extraordinary as in the event that the police had reliable information that the petitioner was liable for planning an attack on District Courts, the person involved ought to have been charged for an offence instead of being detained under a law meant to prevent a breach of public order in the future.

Separately, the same IHC bench stated in the matter related to Shandana that Abdul Aleem, ASP/SDPO Shehzad Town, Islamabad, appeared before the Court and stated that the detenue is not in the custody of the Police Station Banigala but was taken into custody by the Police Station Secretariat under an order passed pursuant to the West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960.

In this matter, Justice Babar also directed that the detenue be produced in the Court on Wednesday (today) while he also directed the District Magistrate to appear in person alongwith the Inspector General of Police and Senior Superintendent of Police and any other police officials or state officials who may have provided any information to the District Magistrate with regard to any apprehension that the detenue may disturb public order or cause a threat to public safety.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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