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Friday December 03, 2021

Pearl murder case: Supreme Court orders shifting Omar Sheikh to govt rest house

February 03, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) Tuesday ordered the shifting of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the main accused in the murder case of US journalist Daniel Pearl, to a government rest house, and providing him facilities for a normal life, but without access to outside world through telephone, internet, etc.

A three-member SC bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, heard the appeal, field by the Sindh government challenging an order passed by the Sindh High Court on December 24, 2020, regarding release of all the four accused including Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, detained by the provincial government.

The court, in its order, noted down both the Attorney General and the Advocate General Sindh have expressed that if the detenue is released, he will either be taken away or may disappear. “In view of the reservations whilst the detenue is entitled to be freed from custody under the impugned judgment, we order him to be placed in a residential environment like a government rest house, providing facilities for a normal life, albeit without access to outside world through telephone, internet etc.,” says the court order.

The court said that proper security arrangements should be ensured for keeping the detenue safe in the rest house, adding that only his family should be allowed to meet him every day from 8am till 5pm.

The provincial government should provide immediate family of the detenue reasonable free transportation and accommodation in Karachi,” the court order said. The Sindh AG sought two-day time for the provincial government to comply with the court order, which the court allowed; however, the court ruled that during this period the accused detenue should be kept in an agreeable environment on the jail premises and should be permitted to meet his family in accordance with the jail manual.

Attorney General Khalid Javed also sought time to file an appeal against the impugned judgment of the Sindh High Court, issued on Dec 24, 2020, and to make submissions with respect to the interpretation of relevant provisions of Article 10 of the Constitution.

Similarly Advocate General Sindh submitted that his petition has already been converted into an appeal; therefore, the same may be taken up for arguments and he sought a week’s time to prepare his brief.

Earlier, during the course of hearing, the court repeatedly asked federal government as to why they are keen to peruse his detention order. Attorney General Khalid Javed submitted that the accused was one of the renowned terrorists and he was not an ordinary criminal and he was a threat to people of Pakistan.

The court asked AG as to how he knew that the accused was a terrorist. The AG replied that he would submit details. “Nothing is important for us than safety of people of Pakistan,” the AG submitted.

The court asked AG to read different laws related to detention and observed that in 2014, these powers of detaining were transferred to provinces and province had three times extended his detention, and for the past one month, he was in jail even without detention order. The court observed that the federal government could not become party to the case. But, if it had grievances on constitutional grounds, it could file an appeal and give arguments. The court said that was about actions of the Sindh government only.

“We cannot give any interim relief anymore to government; we are very cautious,” the court observed. “This is enough, as we do not have a proper history of the links (to keep him in preventive detention,” Justice Bandial observed adding that the federal government had not attended the matter earlier and had come in the case belatedly.

“You are depriving a citizen of his right.” Detention means no trial. This is not dark age, he said. Meanwhile, the counsel for Ahmed Omar Sheikh rejected the government’s claim that he was an international terrorist and said there was no case against him and the court had agreed that that was merely an allegation against the accused.

The counsel informed the Supreme Court that the mother of the accused is here from the UK to meet him, but was not allowed. His three-month child would see his father now after 19 years, while the family was in Lahore and he requested to keep him in Lahore, but the government did not allow it,” the counsel contended.