The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday directed the National Assembly secretary to submit a report regarding PTI leader and former human rights minister Dr Shireen Mazari's May 21 arrest, which IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah observed was "not according to the legal process".

The IHC, while hearing a petition filed by the former minister's daughter, Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir, had termed Mazari's arrest in a land case registered with the Anti-Corru­ption Establishment (ACE) as unlawful. It had also ordered a judicial inquiry into her arrest and asked the federal government to frame its terms of reference (ToRs).

When the hearing resumed today, Deputy Attorney General Arshad Mehmood Kiani presented a notification issued by the federal government to constitute an inquiry commission.

The notification dated June 4, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, stated the commission's ToRs. The members of the commission are retired justice Shakoor Paracha, retired inspector general of police (IGP) Dr Naeem Khan and retired federal secretary Saifullah Chattha.

According to the notification, the commission would inquire into the abuse of powers by public functionaries leading to deprivation of the right to liberty, ascertain the reason for failure to effectively investigate and hold perpetrators of the crime accountable, conduct an impartial and fair probe into Mazari's arrest, and make recommendations to prevent such incidents in the future.

The commission would submit its report to the federal government within 30 days, the notification stated.

During the hearing today, Mazari's lawyer, Ali Bokhari, argued that the commission had not undertaken any activity since the notification was issued, including summoning the former minister.

He also asked the court to inquire from the deputy AG whether his client's application to include the investigation of criminal proceedings against her in the ToRs had been accepted.

However, Justice Minallah observed that the court could not supervise the commission and asked the lawyer to let the body do its work.

The court's opinion was that the action against Mazari was "not according to the legal process", the judge observed.

He told the lawyer to submit another request if he had any objections in the future.

He then asked whether any report had been submitted by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. The deputy AG replied that he had not been given any report.

Justice Minallah observed that another MNA, Ali Wazir, was still in jail. "When they (PTI) were in government, they happily put people in [jail]. Have such incidents been investigated in this court?" he asked.

Subsequently, the court directed the NA secretary to submit the report and adjourned the hearing till July 7.

Mazari's arrest and release

Mazari, who was picked up by a joint team of the Islamabad police and the Punjab ACE from outside her residence on May 21, was freed later in the day on the IHC's order.

When she was produced before the court just before midnight, in compliance with a court order, Mazari told the chief justice that police arrested her without any arrest warrant and a plainclothes official snatched her mobile phone, which was still not returned to her. She said police forcibly removed her from her car and shifted her to another vehicle. She said she told them she was 70 but they did not listen and instead tortured her. They parked the vehicle near Chakri Interchange for her medical checkup which she refused, she added.

When the court pointed out that she could not be arrested without the National Assembly speaker's permission as the Election Commission of Pakistan had not denotified her, ACE deputy commissioner, Islamabad, Irfan Nawaz claimed the Punjab home secretary made a call to the Islamabad chief commissioner about the arrest.

While observing that prima facie Mazari's arrest was illegal, the court ordered her release and directed the Islamabad police chief to return her mobile phone to her.

The court order had asked the authorities concerned to ascertain how Shireen Maz­ari was arr­ested without going thro­ugh the stipulated procedure.

Charges

Mazari was picked up from outside her house at Islamabad's sector E-7 in connection with a case registered with the DG Khan ACE on April 11.

A police officer had told Dawn that the ACE had approached the Kohsar police to seek help in taking her into custody without any arrest warrant. He said the PTI leader was held and brought to the police station after getting permission from senior police officers and the ACE officials immediately left for DG Khan with Mazari, whereas officials at the Kohsar police station did not mention the incident in the daily diary (roznamcha).

According to the FIR, Mazari and her family allegedly tampered with the record of 38,900 kanals of land. Her father allegedly had transferred around 50,000 kanals out of over 78,000 kanals to bogus companies. In 1971-72, a land commissioner had held an inquiry into the transfer and found the record missing. The inquiry report included the names of Shireen Mazari, Wali Mohammad Mazari and other family members.

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