PESHAWAR: Taking exception to the arrest of former PTI provincial lawmaker Rangez Ahmad on Friday by the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) despite bail, Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Khan ordered his release and restrained the government and law enforcement agencies from arresting him and other petitioners, including former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser.

“If such things are allowed to happen, the system will collapse and there will be the law of the jungle,” the chief justice observed, adding that he was responsible for protecting the rights of each and every citizen.

“I was going to resign if the petitioner had not been produced before the court today,” he said. “I have no right to occupy this chair if I can’t protect the rights of people.”

The court ordered the government and law enforcers not to arrest Rangez Ahmad and other petitioners who had been granted interim bail in any of the cases in the province.

Orders release of former MPA arrested by anti-graft officials despite bail

Other petitioners included Mr Qaiser, former MNA Anwar Taj and former MPA Aqibullah Khan.

The bench directed that these petitioners should appear before the relevant courts on Aug 15.

The PHC chief justice reprimanded ACE’s investigation officer Muhammad Naeem, observing that all the judges of the high court were under oath to defend the Constitution.

The court wondered how the officer could arrest the petitioner without the court’s permission when the petitioner had been granted interim bail by another bench in the morning.

The bench warned Mr Naeem that either he had to tender an apology for his illegal act or the court would start contempt proceedings against him and ACE’s director apart from other criminal proceedings.

Mr Naeem then tendered an apology and took the oath that he wouldn’t perform any illegal task to save his job and wouldn’t repeat such acts.

Justice Khan’s remarks were followed by an hours-long drama on the premises of the high court after Rangez Ahmad was whisked away by police officials when he was granted interim bail by a bench of Justice Ijaz Anwar in two cases already registered against him.

One case pertained to the May 9 and 10 protests in Swabi, Mr Ahmad’s native town, and another one was registered by the ACE against several former lawmakers.

No sooner had he tried to leave the premises of the high court than he was taken into custody and shifted to an undisclosed location. Later, after 4pm, he was brought back to the high court from Swabi after the court took notice.

Published in Dawn, Aug 5th, 2023

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