• Special Branch report against detained PTI leaders termed ‘vague’
• Court sees no ‘incitement’ in Qureshi’s tweets

ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) has observed that the power of the district magistrate to issue a detention order under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) is not absolute, and the misuse of this authority violates the fundamental rights.

IHC Justice Miangul Has­san Aurangzeb, in detailed orders issued on petitions filed by PTI leaders Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Ejaz Chaudhry and Maleeka Bukhari, stated that “the court has to satisfy itself as to [whether] the grounds on which the order under Section 3 of the MPO was made were correct or not”.

He perused the reports of the special branch against the leader and found that these reports stated that “in the recent past, the leadership of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had spread hatred against the military leadership, which had created political unrest in the country”.

However, the court termed these reports ‘vague’.

The court was of the view that “an order under Section 3 of the MPO cannot be based on conjectures and surmises. It should be based on conc­rete and tangible evidence. The grounds on the basis of which the detention order of a person is issued must be supported by sufficient and cogent material of the nature as would satisfy an ordinary prudent person to justify the issuance of an order of preventive detention.”

The order said: “Article 9 of the Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with the law. Powers under Section 3 of the MPO cannot be invoked for detention of persons on the grounds other than those provided for by the law. The authority which issues a preventive detention order under Section 3 of the MPO, must satisfy itself that the material / evidence produced before him is sufficient to justify the detention order, failing which the detention order shall be violative of Article 9 of the Constitution.”

The advocate general Islamabad produced tweets by Mr Qureshi.

Justice Aurangzeb examined the tweets and formed the opinion that “none of the copies of the tweets produced by the learned advocate general show that Mr Qureshi had incited the general public to commit acts of violence or to disrupt public order or vandalise or damage public property.”

The court also reproduced the undertaking of Mr Qureshi, Mr Chaudhry and Ms Bukhari in the order sheet in which they pledged to be peaceful in future. The court observed that in case they fail to honour their undertaking, the law would take its course.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2023

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