LAHORE: A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) has ordered quashing two FIRs registered against Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 at Madina Town and Peopleís Colony police stations of Faisalabad on Sept 16.
The cases were lodged against him in Faisalabad under Section 11-F (4) of the Anti-Terrorism Act on charges of delivering provoking speeches while inciting the Muslims to launch holy war (Jihad) against the US, Israel and India.
The bench comprising, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Najam-ul-Hasan, on Monday started hearing arguments of the counsel for Hafiz Saeed, AK Dogar, who had filed a petition seeking cancellation of the cases against Hafiz Saeed.
The court remarked that the JD was not a banned organisation as its name was not included in the list of the banned terrorist organisations. The court further said the JD was not a terrorist organisation as well. Therefore, there were no constraints on the JD to collect funds, carry on membership and hold congregations.
During the hearing, the court asked Punjab Assistant Advocate General Malik Abdul Aziz whether the JD was a banned organisation. The assistant advocate general sought half an hour to give answer to the court after getting proper information from the Federal Ministry of Interior. The court granted him the time.
On resumption of the hearing, the assistant advocate general told the court that the Punjab government had not issued any notification regarding ban on the JD and the Federal Ministry of Interior had restricted activities of the JD on the basis of resolution of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
He said the name of the JD was not included in the list of those organisations which were banned by the Federal Ministry of Interior under Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.He said the name of JD had not been included in the list of proscribed organisations but was added on a watch list due to terrorism threats.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said if there was no ban on the JD, why cases were registered against JD chief Hafiz Saeed under Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 in Faisalabad. He remarked that Section 11-F (4) could not be enforced on the JD.
The judge observed that to invite people to an Iftar party was also not any crime. The judge observed: “There was no ambiguity regarding any ban on the JD as a learned bench of this court had already been informed that the organisation was not listed as a proscribed organisation. And there is no need to hold any separate judicial inquiry.”
The government has taken steps against the JD treating it as a banned outfit but has not included its name in schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, the judge observed, adding that this factual aspect of the matter had already been admitted by a division bench of the LHC.
The judge also observed that the sections mentioned in the FIRs were also not applicable in these cases; moreover, the occurrence mentioned in the FIRs was not a cognizable offence.Dogar in his arguments said the cases against his client were registered without any lawful authority under the pressure of India.
He said the organisation of his client was not a proscribed one, but a social welfare and educational organisation having literate scholars. Upon this, Justice Khosa remarked that the character or qualifications of the petitioner were none of court’s business as it had to decide the case as per law.
About the illegality of the FIRs, he argued that the cases had been registered under section 11-F (4) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, which was not attracted in the cases because the JD was not a proscribed organisation.
He said the FIRs did not disclose the commission of any cognizable offence and the said section of the ATA had no relevance to the offence mentioned in the FIRs. He pointed out that in an earlier case against house detention of Hafiz Saeed the state had also failed to produce any notification regarding banning the JD. He pointed out that his client had also been head of Islamiat Department in University of Engineering and Technology (UET).
Justice Khosa observed, “In the name of terrorism we cannot brutalise the law.” Therefore, the division bench ordered quashing FIRs registered against Hafiz Saeed declaring them mala fide and without lawful jurisdiction.
Earlier, the counsel for the petitioner had pleaded that release of the JD chief on June 2 had caused uproar in India as the Indian government kept pressing the Pakistani government to take action against him.
Resultantly, two FIRs were registered against him with police stations of Peopleís Colony and Madina Town, Faisalabad, on Sept 16 on charges that he delivered inflammatory speeches inviting people to launch a holy war (Jihad) against the US, Israel and India because they were hatching a conspiracy to wipe out Pakistan’s nuclear assets.
According to the FIRs, Hafiz Saeed also urged people not to bow before these forces and remain united and participate in struggle against them.