Notices issued on Omar Shaikh’s plea against detention under MPO

Updated 16 Jul 2020

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Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, commonly known as Shaikh Omar, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil through their counsel moved the SHC against the provincial authorities for detaining them since their acquittal in April. — AFP/File
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, commonly known as Shaikh Omar, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil through their counsel moved the SHC against the provincial authorities for detaining them since their acquittal in April. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the provincial authorities, advocate general and prosecutor general on a petition challenging the detention of four men set free by the SHC after setting aside the trial court order in the abduction and murder case of US journalist Daniel Pearl.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, commonly known as Shaikh Omar, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil through their counsel moved the SHC against the provincial authorities for detaining them since their acquittal in April.

Read: Omar Saeed Sheikh — from rowdy student to terror convict

The lawyer contended that the provincial authorities had ordered the detention of the petitioners under Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960 for a period of three months on April 2 shortly after the judgement of SHC on their appeals.

The counsel further submitted that on July 1, the provincial home department had issued another notification extending their detention for another three months under Section 11-EEE (powers to arrest and detain suspected persons) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

SHC has ordered release of Omar, three others in Pearl murder case but Sindh govt detained them under MPO

The notification said that the names of these four individuals were included in the Fourth Schedule under the ATA on the recommendations made on June 26 by the provincial police officer and the additional inspector general of the Counter Terrorism Department for their alleged affiliation with terrorist originations and involvement in terrorist acts.

A DIG had also reported on June 29 that while being on Fourth Schedule these persons will be able to move around and re-establish the network for the purpose of further terrorist activity.

The notification said that the provincial government was satisfied that the apprehension existed that they may indulge in networking and terrorism if released and therefore required to be detained under Section 11-EEE of ATA for a period of three months.

The lawyer argued that the petitioners had been behind bars for the past 20 years and despite being acquitted by the court they had not been set free yet.

He maintained that the detention was not in accordance with law and pleaded to set aside the detention notification.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Abdul Maalik Gaddi issued notices to the advocate general and prosecutor general as well as to the home department and other respondents for Aug 7.

Justice Gaddi asked the counsel whether any board was constituted under the supervision of the SHC for further detention of the petitioners.

The lawyer for the petitioners contended that the home department had not constituted any board, but issued a simple notification to detain them for another three months.

On April 2, a two-judge appellate bench of the SHC acquitted all the appellants from the charges of murder and kidnapping for ransom and only found main accused Ahmed Omar Sheikh guilty of abducting the slain journalist and sentenced him to seven-year imprisonment.

However, the sentence had been completed since the convict had already spent around 18 years in detention.

An antiterrorism court at Hyderabad had sentenced Sheikh to death in 2002 for murder and kidnapping of the 38-year-old South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal for ransom and co-accused were awarded life term for helping the main convict.

The provincial government and the parents of the slain journalist have filed appeals against the SHC’s order before the Supreme Court.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2020