Friday September 29, 2023

SHC suspends detention of PTI MPA, over 24 activists under MPO

May 30, 2023

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday suspended the detention of over two dozen leaders and activists of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), including former leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi, under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance (MPO) by the home department, and ordered their release subject to executing PR bond.

The interim order came on petitions filed by PTI activists who had challenged their detention under the MPO imposed by the Sindh home department. A counsel for the petitioners had submitted that the Sindh government had issued notifications with regard to detention of activists and leaders of the PTI under the MPO for 30 days.

The petitioners had submitted that the impugned notifications had been issued on request, consultations and recommendations of the Sindh inspector general of police, and the custody of all the detained persons had been placed in different prisons of the province.

They submitted that the ruling party in Sindh was also part of the coalition in the federal government that did not want to conduct elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa even after directions of the Supreme Court. They submitted that PTI workers were protesting against the arrest of party leader Imran Khan on May 9 when some miscreants caused arson and riots and ransacked public and private properties for their ulterior motives.

They submitted that the Sindh government had arrested and detained a large number of PTI workers and leaders unlawfully and these arrest and detentions were not properly explained and no opportunity of fair representation had been provided to them before a competent authority to challenge their arrest or detention under the MPO.

They submitted that the government of Sindh on the one hand had imposed the Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the city and on the other hand, the ruling political party held a public rally in the Tower area and blocked MA Jinnah road for traffic for the entire day in violation of the Section 144.

The high court had been requested to declare the MPO notification against PTI workers and leaders unlawful and stop the Sindh government from issuing any unlawful order to harass them.

A division bench of the SHC comprising Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed inquired a provincial law officer as to the material on the basis of which the impugned order was made. The provincial law officer submitted that he did not have any material and sought time to file para-wise comments on the petitions.

He submitted that alternative remedy was available to the petitioners by way of representation to the provincial government and contended that such remedy was efficacious as the representation was invariably decided in a single day.

The high court asked the law officer regarding any order in which representation had been decided but the law officer did not cite any such instance in the matter of the petitioners. The SHC observed that since the matter pertained to the liberty of the citizen, the operation of the impugned notification under the MPO was suspended.

The bench ordered the release of the petitioners subject to executing a PR bond in sum of Rs10,000 each before the concerned jail superintendent or police station as the case may be, if they were not required in any other cases.

The SHC directed the office to communicate the order of court to the Sindh police chief, IG prisons and home department for information and compliance. The high court also issued notices to the home department and others on 12 more petitions filed by PTI activists against their detention under the MPO.

The petitioners submitted that PTI activist Mona had been detained under the MPO and shifted to the Khairpur prison for 30 days while another activist Rizwan was also detained under the MPO and shifted to outside Karachi.

They said that four other activists, including Fahad Asim, were shifted to the Mirpurkhas and Sanghar prisons to serve the detention period. They submitted that the impugned orders with regard to their detention and shifting to Khairpur and Jacobabad prisons were outcome of political rivalry. The high court was requested to set aside the detention order under the MPO and order release of the detainees. The high court directed the official respondents to allow meeting of the detainees with their family members and called comments from the respondents.