ISLAMABAD: Farhatullah Babar, a PPP stalwart, has pleaded before the Supreme Court to hear his challenge to the Action in aid of Civil Power Ordinance 2019, promulgated in August by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governor.

Although the Peshawar High Court struck down the law, the apex court suspended the PHC’s order after the federal and the KP governments appealed against it.

The request was made in a fresh appeal against a non-maintainability order by the registrar office of the apex court.

Farhatullah Babar had moved the petition on Oct 17 seeking scrapping of the ordinance since, he observed, it impinged upon fundamental rights by authorising the armed forces to detain any individual any time and anywhere in the province without assigning any reason and without producing the accused before a court of law.

In addition to Farhatullah Babar, the petition was jointly moved by rights activists Afrasiab Khattack, Bushra Gohar and Rubina Saigol, all from KP. Advocate Khwaja Ahmad Hosain drafted the petition.

The registrar officer of the apex court returned the petition on Oct 28 on grounds that the petitioners had not pointed out which fundamental rights involving a question of public importance had been violated. Therefore the petitioners should approach the proper forum for redress of their grievance, the registrar ruled.

But the appeal moved through Khwaja Hosain on behalf of the petitioners pleaded that the registrar’s de­­cision lacked an appreciation and consideration of the petition’s contents and the facts of the case and had had not examined the relief prayed for.

The appeal argued that the case clearly involved a matter of public importance and fundamental rights since the ordinance allowed detention at internment centres in KP. It affects any person living in KP or even those who visit the province.

It was a matter of public importance because of the scope of the law’s applicability, the appeal contended.

It was also of public importance since the law authorised detention for an undefined duration without charge through internment and also allowed the armed forces to take action by use of force, including air power.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2019