The Lahore deputy commissioner (DC) has issued a 30-day detention order for PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO), it emerged on Monday.

The order, which was issued late last night, stated that Elahi would be held at Lahore’s Camp Jail, where he has been incarcerated since last month. It came after Lahore police submitted a written request for Elahi’s detention for allegedly disturbing the peace in connection with three cases.

The PTI president, who is also the former chief minister of Punjab, was first arrested on June 1 in connection with a corruption case. He was discharged in said case the very next day, only to be arrested in another.

On Saturday, a banking crimes court had issued orders for Elahi’s release from Lahore’s Camp Jail in a money laundering case. However, he was not set free as police said a case has been registered against him at the Ghalib Market police station under terrorism provisions.

The detention order issued by Lahore DC Rafia Haider, dated July 16 and a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, stated that Lahore police had reported that Elahi was “an active member and firebrand speaker” of the PTI.

It further said that the superintendent (SP) of the Model Town division and the district intelligence branch had also reported that an “activist” like Elahi would “create a situation of unrest and disturbance”. It said that the PTI president had the “potential to disrupt the public peace and tranquility and to provoke people illegally for taking [the] law into [their] hands”.

In the order, the Lahore DC said, “There is a genuine concern that not only he but also his followers have the potential of damaging both public and private properties and may create road blockage situation.”

It said that police had received “credible information indicating that if individual in question is left free, [he] can potentially worsen the law and order along with his accomplices, which can end up in replicating the May 9 mayhem”.

The order also listed the first information reports filed against Elahi at various police stations in Lahore and termed him a “criminal record holder”.

Citing the investigation in the cases, the detention order stated that it has been categorically established that Elahi “perpetrated acts of resistance, arson and terrorist attack on law enforcement agencies through his accomplices”.

It further said that the members of the District Intelligence Committee “endorsed the evidence/material provided by the police department and unanimously recommended” that Elahi’s detention orders should be issued.

In the order, DC Haider asserted that she is convinced that the PTI president’s presence “at any public space will pose grave threat to the public safety and it is likely to cause breach of public peace and public order”.

Subsequently, the Lahore DC ordered for Elahi to be arrested and detained for 30 days at the city’s Camp Jail.

Detention order challenged in LHC

Meanwhile, Elahi’s legal team approached the Lahore High Court (LHC), requesting it to dismiss the detention order by declaring it “unlawful, void, against the law and of no legal effect”.

The Punjab government, Lahore Inspector General Dr Usman Anwar, the Federal Investigating Agency, the National Accountability Bureau, the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment, the Lahore IG (Prisons) and the Lahore DC were among the eleven parties named as respondents in the plea.

The plea called for Elahi’s release and for the ex-Punjab chief minister to be provided “reasonable time to approach the relevant court of law for his anticipatory/pre-arrest or protective bail” if the respondents produced any new FIRs against him.

Moreover, the plea asks the LHC to direct authorities to not arrest Elahi in any criminal case against until the plea was decided. The plea asserted that the petitioner had served as the Punjab chief minister twice and belonged to the PTI, which it said was in “hot waters these days”.

It stated that Elahi was currently in judicial custody in Camp Jail in a case filed on February 13 by the FIA’s anti-money laundering circle, in which the petitioner had been granted post-arrest bail on July 11.

The plea argued that the PTI president had been “deprived of his liberty since June 1” for the “purpose of political victimisation”.

The petition alleged that the respondents, with “malafide intention and by joining hands” with the PML-N, were politically victimising Elahi by “keeping him behind the bars for one reason or the other”.

The plea was taken up by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi. During the hearing, lawyer Amir Saeed Raan appeared on Elahi’s behalf and argued that the Lahore DC’s order was illegal, adding that his client had been granted bail in all cases.

“Pervez Elahi is 77-years-old. How can he disturb peace and order?” the lawyer asked, adding that courts were supposed to safeguard fundamental rights. However, the Punjab government opposed the plea.

At one point, Justice Najafi told the Punjab government lawyer that “what you are doing is not right”. “You are setting a wrong tradition,” he said. “Apart from allegations, you also need evidence to detain [Elahi],” the judge said.

Subsequently, the lawyer for the Punjab government told Elahi’s lawyer to submit a request for his release, saying that it would be decided within a week.

At that, the court said that it would forward Elahi’s plea to the Punjab government. However, Elahi’s lawyer said that they would file a separate plea and withdrew the petition from the LHC.

Elahi’s arrest and re-arrests

Elahi is among several PTI leaders and workers who have been arrested amid the state’s crackdown on the PTI leadership following the May 9 riots during protests over party chief Imran Khan being whisked away by the Rangers at the Islamabad High Court premises.

He was first arrested on June 1 from outside his Lahore residence by the ACE for allegedly taking kickbacks in development projects.

The next day, he was discharged by a Lahore court but was rearrested by the ACE in a similar case registered in its Gujran­wala region. However, a Gujranwala court had then discharged him on June 3 in two corruption cases pertaining to the embezzlement of funds.

Nevertheless, even after being discharged, the ACE then rearrested Elahi for “illegal recruitments” in the Punjab Assembly.

On June 9, a special anti-corruption court had given the ACE a “last opportunity” to present the record of the illegal appointments case.

The same day, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) came into action and initiated another inquiry against Elahi for his alleged involvement in embezzlement in development projects in Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin.

After a sessions court on June 12 had set aside a judicial magistrate’s decision of Elahi’s acquittal in the embezzlement case, the next day, a judicial magistrate again sent him to judicial lockup after the LHC suspended the said order of the sessions court.

On June 20, Elahi finally secured relief from an anti-corruption court in Lahore but could not be released from jail as orders for his release were not delivered to the prison administration.

The same day, the FIA booked him, his son Moonis Elahi and three others on charges of money laundering.

Subsequently, the next day, the FIA took him into custody from jail and he was sent to jail on a 14-day judicial remand in the money laundering case.

On June 26, a Lahore district court again sent Elahi to jail on a 14-day judicial remand in connection with a money laundering case, shortly after the FIA arrested him from outside the Camp Jail.

Then on July 4, a Lahore anti-terrorism court had dismissed Elahi’s post-arrest bail plea as not maintainable in a case of attacking a police team that raided his house to arrest him in an inquiry by the ACE.

About a week later, the LHC instructed Inspector General of Prisons IG Mian Farooq to address the PTI president’s complaints regarding the lack of basic facilities provided to him in jail.

On July 12, an FIA plea against the denial of Elahi’s physical remand in a case of unexplained banking transactions was dismissed by a Lahore sessions court.

Two days later, the LHC had restrained the police and the ACE from arresting the former Punjab chief minister in any undisclosed case.

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