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December 2, 2020

LHC suspends social activist Ammar Jan’s detention order

Top Story

December 2, 2020

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Tuesday suspended the detention orders of social activist Dr Ammar Ali Jan and restrained the provincial police from arresting or detaining him.

His arrest orders were issued by the Lahore deputy commissioner on Nov 26 under Section 3 (power to arrest and detain suspected persons) of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance. According to the order, Jan was a "potential danger to public peace, law and order situation," and must be detained for 30 days "in order to keep the law and order situation in the city".

Jan had sought suspension and the striking down of the impugned order for being in violation of articles 4, 9, 10, 17, 19, and 25, among others, of the Constitution.

“In Pakistan, influential people will not let their rivals to move freely by misusing 'detention orders'," said LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan. He added that a person could not be detained on the basis of an FIR being registered as per an earlier order by the country's top court.

The chief justice inquired from the law officer if the petitioner had a prior criminal record.

Counsel Hina Jillani said that Ali Jan was a professor and had taught at the FC College. She said he had been implicated in a forged case merely to humiliate him.

The law officer informed the court that two cases had been registered against the social worker. The counsel implored the court that the petitioner was being ‘trapped’ on the basis of assumptions and he had no involvement in any unlawful activity.

Remarking that judgments did exist from superior courts regarding detention on the basis of an FIR, the chief justice said the order passed by the provincial capital's deputy commissioner is against the norms of the Constitution.

Jan, in his petition, had prayed to the court that the detention order was passed in an arbitrary and whimsical manner without applying reason. The CJ heard the initial, suspended the detention order and sought replies from the Punjab government and Lahore's deputy commissioner.

After the students solidarity march in Nov 2019, a case of sedition among other offences was registered against Jan. Prior to the said case, another FIR was registered against him in February 2019. Both the cases implicated the petitioner in similar offences, especially speech-related offences such as sedition.

After the registration of the first FIR, Jan was arrested from his residence on February 9, 2019. In the second case, the social worker was again granted pre-arrest bail.