PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench has declared as illegal the detention of seven members of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) by the district administration of Tank and South Waziristan districts and ordered their release, if not required in any other case.
The two-member bench, consisting of Justice Mussarat Hilali and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim, on Friday accepted writ petitions filed by the detainees challenging their detention under section 3 of the MPO by the two deputy commissioners concerned.
The petitioners are: Arif Wazir, Abdullah Nangyal, Rehmat Shah Mehsud, Idress Pashteen, Bilal Pashteen, Zubair Wazir and Yousaf Mehsud.
Both deputy commissioners had invoked section 3 of the MPO on different dates and ordered detention of the petitioners for one month.
The administrations of Tank and South Waziristan claimed that the petitioners were acting in a manner prejudicial to public peace and tranquillity.
Senior counsel Shahab Khattak appeared for the petitioners and contended that the deputy commissioners had overstepped their powers under the MPO. He argued that the two DCs had not applied their “independent minds” and instead issued “stereotyped orders” under section 3 of the MPO.
Mr Khattak argued that the impugned orders were in violation of fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution. He contended that in case of any violation of a law, the state agencies were at liberty to register FIRs against a suspect, but they cannot deprive any citizen of his liberty, freedom of movement and expression.
In case of violation of any law or commission of any penal offence, the government could adopt a legal recourse, but any such detention under MPO on “pretext of prevention was beyond the law”.
Mr Khattak said the administration’s contention that the detainees belonged to PTM was not a valid ground for detention.
The PTM was neither a proscribed organisation nor was it a terrorist outfit, Mr Khattak observed.
He argued that merely being a member of an organisation was not a crime which could attract section 3 of the MPO.
The counsel contended that all these impugned orders were politically motivated and not based on facts.
Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2019