PBC strongly condemns ‘manhandling’, detention of Elahi as he challenges fresh arrest in IHC

Published September 2, 2023
Parvez Elahi being dragged out of his car by the Islamabad police in Lahore. — Screengrab from video shared by Moonis Elahi
Parvez Elahi being dragged out of his car by the Islamabad police in Lahore. — Screengrab from video shared by Moonis Elahi

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) on Saturday “strongly condemned the manhandling” and re-arrest of PTI President Parvez Elahi a day ago in violation of the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) orders.

On Friday, the LHC had ordered that the former Punjab chief minister be released along with a restraining order against his possible arrest by any agency or preventive detention.

However, hours after he was released from the Adiala Jail, a team of the Islamabad police, assisted by the Punjab police, intercepted the white SUV near the FCC underpass in which Elahi was riding to his house along with lawyer Sardar Latif Khosa.

The police personnel shifted Elahi into a white car with no licence plate, which drove him to Islamabad. Visuals of the arrest — in which men in plain clothes accompanied by uniformed Punjab policemen can be seen dragging Elahi out of his car — had gone viral on social media.

Later, Islamabad police had said in a social media post: “Parvez Elahi has been arrested under 3 MPO following an order passed by a district magistrate. Parvez Elahi is being shifted to jail.”

Today, in a statement, PBC Vice-Chairman Haroonur Rashid and Executive Committee Chairman Hassan Raza Pasha, “strongly condemned the manhandling and the way” in which Elahi was re-arrested, as well as his confinement under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO).

It said the re-arrest was made “while disregarding and non-complying” the LHC’s order wherein it had “categorically ordered not to re-arrest him in any case”.

The PBC expressed concerns that the arrest “raised questions about the rule of law and the power dynamics in Pakistan’s political landscape”.

Stressing the necessity to obey and implement court orders and upholding the Constitution, the council stated that the courts “should take care while deciding political matters whether orders passed therein could be implemented or not”.

Elahi challenges MPO detention in IHC

Meanwhile, Elahi today approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his detention under the MPO, urging the court to declare it as “patently illegal, unlawful and without lawful authority”.

The petition, filed through Sardar Abdul Raziq Khan, requested the IHC to set aside the detention order and issue directives for his release.

Stating that the petitioner was “subjected to successive arrests in series of false and politically motivated cases”, the plea recalled that yesterday’s LHC order included directives to the Lahore deputy inspector general (operations) to shift Elahi to his residence in Gulberg II under “tight security”.

It further said that the LHC had observed that the former Punjab chief minister “shall not be arrested in any other case or [under] MPO by police”.

The petition also recalled IHC Justice Babar Sattar’s order on a petition of PTI leader Shehryar Afridi — who was finally released on August 16 — wherein the judge had issued a contempt notice to the city deputy commissioner.

Citing other past verdicts, the plea contended that the MPO detention order was “based on vague, ambiguous and absurd grounds”. It argued that Elahi had been “languishing in jail for the last more than three months” and asked how he could have been “found in circumstances where he could create a law and order situation”.

The petition said the case was “alien to law and has been fictitiously created” to detain the petitioner further “so as to compel him to accede to some unlawful demands of the higher-ups”.

It added that the detention order was the “worst example of high-handedness, lawlessness, political victimisation, violation of rule of law and the Constitution, and tantamount to floating the orders” of the LHC.

Section 3 of the MPO ordinance 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.”

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 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 on August 14 from the Adiala Jail in a graft case. Hours after the LHC ordered his release on September 1, the Islamabad police detained him under the MPO ordinance.

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