PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench has declared as illegal detention of 24 persons under Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance by deputy commissioner of Lower Dir for allegedly running illegal stone crushing plants.
A two-member bench of PHC consisting of Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim and Justice Wiqar Ahmad ruled that if the detainees were involved in any illegal activity, they should have been dealt with under the relevant laws and not under the MPO.
The bench accepted two petitions, filed by the detainees, challenging different orders issued by Lower Dir deputy commissioner/district magistrate on December 27, 2021, under section 3 of MPO, ordering their detention for a period of 30 days.
One of the petitions was filed by Iftikharullah and 18 others, whereas the other petition was filed by Ayanullah and four others.
Petitioners were detained by DC for running ‘unlawful’ stone crushing plants
“If the petitioners are involved in the alleged illegal activities then it is the duty of the state to proceed against them in accordance with relevant law on the subject but in our view, the detention of the petitioners under section 5 of the ordinance would hardly serve any purpose rather it will further aggravate the situation,” the bench ruled.
The deputy commissioner in separate orders about each of the petitioners mentioned that he received information from assistant director (industries) Lower Dir on December 23, 2021, that the said individuals were involved in running illegal crushing plants, which were prejudicial to public safety, health and atmosphere in the district.
He stated that he was satisfied with the report of the assistant director (industries) that the said persons created menace in the area and posed threat to peace and tranquility, therefore, their detention under section 3 of MPO was highly important.
He, in his orders, stated that the said crushing plants created noise and air pollution, which disturbed people in the surrounding areas. He added that the illegal mining was also destroying the natural shape of the bed of the Panjkora River, which caused heavy human and infrastructure losses during floods.
Advocate Mohammad Tariq Khan appeared for the petitioners and contended that the orders passed by the DC were in gross violation of fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan.
He stated that the report of the assistant director (industries) was without substance and in a mechanical manner the DC acted on the basis of the said report, which was illegal and unconstitutional.
He contended that the petitioners had no criminal history and were law abiding citizens. He added that the impugned orders were not supported by any incriminating evidence.
The counsel stated that the respondents including the DC and assistant director acted in a mala-fide manner just to harass and humiliate the petitioners.
He said that if the petitioners were involved in any illegal activity, they should have been proceeded against under the relevant law. He added that the instant orders were misuse of the law meant for preventive detention.
Meanwhile, the bench also accepted petition of another detainee, Zarin Gul, and set aside his detention order issued under section 3 of MPO by the deputy commissioner/district magistrate of Malakand.
The DC had passed the impugned order on December 25, 2021, stating that the petitioner was a man of dubious character and was acting in a manner prejudicial to public peace and maintenance of public order in Malakand district. He had ordered his detention for a period of 30 days in Mardan jail.
The bench ruled that no reference of material had been given in the impugned order on the basis of which the DC issued the detention order under the MPO.
The petitioner’s counsel, Sher Ali, contended that there was no material on record to suggest that his client’s activities were prejudicial to public peace.
Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2022