PTI’s Parvez Elahi re-arrested under public order law hours after LHC orders release

Published September 1, 2023
PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi outside the Lahore High Court on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi outside the Lahore High Court on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi was re-arrested by the Islamabad police on Friday, hours after the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered his release.

According to the capital police, the former Punjab chief minister was taken into custody on orders of the district magistrate under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO).

“He is being shifted to jail,” it said on X (erstwhile Twitter).

Section 3 of MPO empowers the government to arrest and detain suspected persons. It states: “The government, if satisfied that with a view to preventing any person from acting in any manner prejudicial to public safety or the maintenance of public order, it is necessary to do, may, by an order in writing, direct the arrest and detention in such custody […] and [the] government, if satisfied that for the aforesaid reasons, it is necessary so to do, may extend from time to time the period of such detention, for a period not exceeding six months at a time.”

The district magistrate’s order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said that law enforcement agencies had intimated to the judge at various times that Elahi was the PTI president and “remained involved in creating unrest and disturbance and has further potential to disrupt the public peace and tranquillity, if set free”.

It further said that in the past as well, “he has provoked PTI supporters to take law into their own hands … The intelligence agencies have further reported that they have credible information that he would be a threat and can worsen the law and order situation along with his supporters if he has not detained.”

The order added that it was also reported by agencies that multiple cases were registered against Elahi in different police stations for his involvement in disruption of peace, law and order.

The magistrate said it was highlighted in various reports from intelligence and law enforcement agencies that Elahi has “planned actions against law enforcement, public infrastructure and property”, adding that the Intelligence Bureau and Islamabad’s assistant inspector general and senior superintendent of police had also recommended the PTI president’s detention under Section 3 of the MPO to prevent public disorder.

The order added that a district intelligence committee meeting was convened on the above reports on Thursday and not only endorsed them but also recommended a detention order for Elahi.

The magistrate said that on the basis of the material placed before him and the committee’s recommendation, he was convinced that Elahi should be detained for “ensuring public peace and tranquillity”.

He ordered that Elahi be detained for 15 days “to avoid any likelihood of breach of peace/unlawful assembly in the district”, adding that the PTI leader had the right to appeal to the government against the decision.

Elahi is among several PTI leaders who have been booked under the MPO amid the state’s crackdown against the party in the aftermath of the May 9 riots.

His arrest today came hours after the LHC ordered the National Accountability to release the PTI president and barred authorities from arresting him in any case.

Earlier, the former chief minister’s son Moonis Elahi claimed his father was “abducted” from outside his Lahore residence.

“After the high court’s orders and on the judge’s instructions police including court security were taking my father home. As the car entered our street, it was stopped and he was abducted,” he said.

Moonis added that if court orders were going to be “ridiculed like this maybe they should officially declare it”.

A video shared by Moonis on X showed men in plain clothes accompanied by uniformed Punjab policemen dragging the former Punjab chief minister out of his vehicle. Lawyer Latif Khosa can also be seen in the clip. He was sitting next to Elahi and was pulled out of the vehicle so the men could reach the PTI president.

LHC hearing

Earlier in the day, the LHC ordered the NAB to release Elahi in a case of allegedly receiving bribes/kickbacks in exchange for getting the “contracts of road schemes of Gujrat Highways Division awarded to favourite/hand-picked contractors”.

At the outset of the hearing today, Justice Amjad Rafiq asked why Elahi was not presented in court.

In his reply, the NAB prosecutor said the accountability watchdog was prepared to bring the former chief minister to court but it received a letter from the Punjab government today detailing threats to Elahi’s life.

“The NAB had even asked the government for security to bring Elahi here [the court],” he said, adding that the Punjab deputy inspector general (DIG) had replied in a letter that bulletproof vehicles and police armoured vans were being used in the operation against riverine gangs.

The prosecutor added that the NAB was ready to present Elahi without security “but if something happens who will be responsible”.

Here, Elahi’s lawyer Rana Intizar Hussain said, “We are ready to provide a bulletproof vehicle.”

Subsequently, the court ordered the anti-graft body to present the PTI president within an hour and warned that it would otherwise issue arrest warrants for the Punjab DIG.

At around 12:15pm, the NAB presented Elahi in court. However, Justice Rafiq once again asked why the accountability bureau was hesitant to present the former chief minister in court.

He then ordered Elahi’s release and barred authorities from arresting him in any other case.

In a written order issued in the afternoon, the court said Elahi’s custody in the NAB “is found in an unlawful manner”.

It added: “The petitioner shall not be arrested in terms mentioned therein including the NAB or any other authority/agency/office etc, nor shall be detained under any laws relating to preventive detention.”

Talking to reporters after his release today, Elahi held the PML-N responsible for the current state of the economy. “All of them have run off to London after ruining the economy,” he said.

“They have kept me inside, I don’t even know what is happening in the country,” the PTI president added.

Timeline of arrests and rearrests

Elahi was first taken into custody 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. However, he was then detained at Lahore’s Camp Jail under Section 3 of the MPO.

Upon the completion of the MPO detention, the Lahore NAB team took Elahi into custody from the Adiala Jail in a graft case.


Additional reporting by Shakeel Qarar.

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