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Tuesday July 16, 2024

SHC moved against detention of 120 more PTI activists under MPO law

By Jamal Khurshid
May 31, 2023

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the home department, the provincial police chief and others on a petition challenging the detention of 120 more Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) activists under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance (MPO).

Petitioner Zaheer Mohammad, an office-bearer of the Insaf Lawyer Forum, said the provincial government had detained hundreds of PTI activists following the violent incidents after the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan on May 9.

He claimed that some criminal elements infiltrated the PTI’s peaceful protests to destroy public and private properties in different parts of Karachi. He also claimed that the PTI leadership condemned the violence and demanded arresting the persons responsible.

However, he said, the provincial government instead started detaining PTI’s peaceful activists who earn daily wages for their poor families. He also said that over 120 PTI activists had been detained under the MPO and shifted to different prisons of the province in the hot and harsh summer season.

The petitioner said that the impugned detention notifications under the MPO could only be invoked when the competent authority had sufficient evidence of threats to public peace and tranquillity.

He maintained that in the instant case no such material was available to justify the impugned action, and that even the mere involvement of some followers of the party of the petitioner in a few criminal cases could not form a basis for their preventive detention.

He submitted that after the enforcement of the MPO 1960, the rights of the petitioner and the members of his party, the mere availability of an alternative remedy by way of representation to the government against the detention orders do not fetter the constitutional jurisdiction of the SHC under Article 199 of the constitution.

The court was requested to declare the impugned May 12 notifications of detentions under the MPO issued against 120 PTI activists as illegal, and direct the home department and the police to release all the arrested and detained leaders, workers and followers of the party as well as the innocent persons who do not belong to the PTI.

After the preliminary hearing of the petition, an SHC division bench headed by Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed issued notices to the home department, the provincial police chief and others, telling them to file their comments on June 1.