PTI Secretary General Asad Umar’s wife on Friday filed a habeas corpus petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) for her husband’s recovery from “improper, illegal and unlawful” custody of the Lahore police.
Umar had courted arrest, along with other senior PTI leaders, in Lahore on Wednesday as part of the party’s ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (court arrest drive), which according to ex-premier Imran Khan is aimed at countering the “attack” on the party’s fundamental rights and the economic “meltdown”.
Umar was then shifted to Lahore’s Central Jail.
The habeas corpus petition by Umar’s wife was filed through Barrister Umair Niazi, Advocate Waqar Mushtaq Toor and Advocate Haider Majeed under Articles 4 and 9 of the Constitution and mentioned Lahore Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rafia Haider, Lahore Capital City Police Officer Bilal Siddique Kamyana, Punjab Inspector General of Police (Prison) Malik Mubashar Ahmed Khan and Central Jail’s superintendent as respondents.
The petition said that Umar was in the “illegal and improper custody” of the respondents and was not being provided with food and necessary medicine by the superintendent.
Umar’s wife said she had found out that the Lahore DC had issued an “illegal and unlawful” 30-day detention order for her husband and the police had declined to give her any information about him when she approached them.
She said she had tried her best to Umar so she could notice his health and life quality but was denied by the authorities from meeting him.
The petition said that Umar was detained without any allegation and was “not involved in any anti-social activities”. It added that his life was at stake at the hands of the respondents and could suffer “irreparable loss and injury”, along with her too.
She requested the court to accept her petition, set aside Umar’s detention order as being “unlawful and illegal” and pass a direction for his release and production before the court to set him free.
The petition was fixed for hearing on Feb 27 (Monday).
LHC summons govt response on whereabouts of detained PTI leaders
Meanwhile, Justice Chaudhry Shehram Sarwar presided over a similar habeas corpus petition by PTI Senator Ejaz Chaudhry challenging the arrests of its nine senior leaders.
Chaudhry, the steering head of the ‘court-arrest movement’, had filed the petition a day ago alleging that the police illegally detained party leaders, including vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Umar, Senator Waleed Iqbal, former governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema, Senator Azam Swati, Murad Raas, Muhammad Khan Madni, Azam Khan Niazi and Ahsaan Dogar.
Justice Sarwar rejected a request from the PTI lawyer to summon an answer from the government today about the whereabouts of the party’s leaders and issued a notice to the public prosecutor to appear with instructions and a response from the government on Monday.
Chaudhry’s counsel argued that party leaders were being illegally detained by the police, adding that over 100 leaders and workers were arrested.
The court observed that the police were not arresting them and PTI workers had entered and seated themselves in prison vans, eliciting laughter in the courtroom.
The LHC observed that the PTI was now burdening the courts with the issue. Justice Sarwar questioned how and when the arrests were made to which the PTI counsel said the arrests were made during the “movement for protection and restoration of law”.
“Where is it written [in the law] that ‘please arrest me’?” the judge questioned to which the PTI counsel said they were “symbolic arrests”.
The judge then questioned Zain Qureshi whether his father Shah Mahmood Qureshi was arrested as well to which he responded in the affirmative and requested that he be permitted to meet him.
“If you want to meet him then go to Charing Cross,” the judge remarked, to which Zain replied that he went there but was not arrested.
The judge said that Zain had indeed gone to present himself for arrest but did not enter and sit in the prison van by himself. “You are anguished by this that you were taken out of Lahore,” the judge said.
“You should ask the home secretary to put you under house arrest where all facilities are available,” the judge remarked.
Talking to the media outside the LHC, Zain said he did not know where his father was held and said human rights were being “openly violated”.
He said prisoners also had certain rights and they were not being provided to the PTI detainees. Zain said that according to the law, detainees were supposed to be presented within 24 hours but 72 hours had now passed and there was still no contact.