LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Tuesday remanded the matter of proscribed Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Hafiz Saad Rizvi to the Lahore High Court (LHC) for a fresh decision by a division bench.

A two-judge SC bench comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi passed the order on an appeal by the Punjab government challenging a decision whereby a single bench of the LHC had on Oct 1 declared the detention of Rizvi unlawful.

Although the SC bench in its verbal directive did not mention the suspension of the impugned order of the LHC, legal experts opine that the decision of the single bench would be deemed to be non-existent since the matter has been remanded for a fresh decision by a division bench.

The apex court framed questions of maintainability of the petition against the detention of Rizvi and the jurisdiction of the high court to entertain that petition to be decided by the division bench expeditiously.

Earlier, Advocate Burhan Moazam Malik, the counsel for Rizvi’s uncle, argued that the government’s appeal had become infructuous since the 90-day detention period had lapsed.

He said there was no order in the field — judicial or administrative — regarding the detention of Rizvi. He asked the SC to dismiss the government’s appeal for being infructuous.

A law officer argued that the impugned order was a classic case of excess of jurisdiction as the LHC usurped the authority vested in and meant for the executive. He said the high court failed to appreciate the basis for judicial review that was to interpret and further the intent of parliament as obtained in the statute.

He argued that the single bench of the LHC had no jurisdiction to hear the matter since it involved provision of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

In its appeal, the government also said that all the legal requirements envisaged in Section 11-EEE of the Act had been fulfilled, but the high court allowed judicial review, which was tantamount to questioning and adding to express intent of parliament.

It said the chief minister was not required to bring every matter to the cabinet. The “ex post facto” approval of the detention notification issued by the deputy commissioner did not require the cabinet’s approval.

The appeal also referred to reports of law enforcement agencies that suggested that in the prevailing security environment, release of the TLP leader would encourage intolerant and radicalised elements. The reports further said the death anniversary of Maulana Khadim Hussain Rizvi was falling on Nov 19 and the presence of Saad Rizvi on the occasion would aggravate the law and order situation.

Saad Rizvi was detained after his organisation (TLP) staged sit-ins across the country demanding the government expel the French ambassador in the wake of publication of blasphemous cartoons in France. The protesters had turned violent and attacked police personnel.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2021

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