• PTI president ‘kept in separate cell, not allowed to meet Imran’
• Lawyers’ body condemns Elahi’s ‘manhandling’, re-arrest

ISLAMABAD / TAXILA: PTI leader and former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, who has been moved to Attock Jail after yet another arrest, approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against his detention on Saturday, urging the court to declare it as “patently illegal, unlawful and without lawful authority”.

The Islamabad police arrested Mr Elahi near his home under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance. He was detained soon after the Lahore High Court (LHC) set him free with a restraining order against his possible arrest by any agency or preventive detention.

Later, in the early hours of Saturday, Mr Elahi was shifted to Attock Jail, where PTI chief Imran Khan is now in judicial custody in the cipher case after the IHC suspended his sentence in the Toshakhana reference.

However, jail sources said Mr Elahi was being kept in a separate cell and was not immediately allowed to meet Mr Khan.

In a petition filed through Sardar Abdul Raziq Khan, Mr Elahi requested the IHC to set aside the detention order and issue directives for his release. He cited the interior secretary, district magistrate, the Islamabad police chief and the Adiala Jail’s superintendent as respondents.

Mr Elahi said that he was “subjected to successive arrests in series of false and politically motivated cases” and that the LHC’s Friday order included directives to the Lahore deputy inspector general (operations) to shift Mr Elahi to his home in Gulberg II under “tight security”.

The Lahore High Court had observed that Mr Elahi “shall not be arrested in any other case or [under] MPO by police”, he said.

In his petition, Mr Elahi cited an order by Justice Babar Sattar of the IHC on a plea of PTI leader Shehryar Afridi, in which the judge had issued a contempt notice to the deputy commissioner. Mr Afridi was finally released on Aug 16.

Citing other past verdicts, Mr Elahi contended that the MPO detention order was “based on vague, ambiguous and absurd grounds”. He argued that he 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”.

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

The detention order, he said, was the “worst example of high-handedness, lawlessness, political victimisation, violation of the rule of law and the Constitution, and tantamount to flouting the orders” of the LHC.

The IHC registrar’s office did not fix the petition for Monday, as it was filed after the prescribed time. However, Mr Elahi’s counsel said he would request the high court’s chief justice to hear the petition on Monday.

A series of arrests and re-arrests followed ever since Mr Elahi was first taken into custody in June from outside his Lahore home by the Anti-Corruption Establishment for allegedly taking kickbacks in development projects.

PBC condemns detention

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) on Saturday “strongly condemned the manhandling” and the re-arrest Mr Elahi in violation of the LHC’s orders, Dawn.com reported.

In a statement, PBC Vice-Chairman Haroonur Rashid and Executive Committee Chairman Hassan Raza Pasha “strongly condemned the manhandling and the way” in which Mr Elahi was re-arrested, as well as his confinement under the MPO.

They said the re-arrest was made “while disregarding and non-complying” with 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”.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2023

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