LAHORE: The Punjab government on Monday informed the Lahore High Court (LHC) that 3,511 out of 4,770 ‘miscreants’ detained under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) in the province since May 9 riots have been released.

A report filed on behalf of the chief secretary revealed that as many as 3,232 detention orders were issued against 4,770 miscreants in the province.

It said, 3,511 detainees were released after withdrawal of their detention orders.

An additional advocate general submitted a report in response to a petition seeking record of the detention orders issued or withdrawn under the MPO after last year’s riots on May 9.

The petition filed by PTI leader Zainab Umair also challenged the abuse of powers by the deputy commissioners (DCs) in the province to detain leaders and workers of her party.

The report further said that the provincial government had delegated its powers under section 26 of the MPO Ordinance, 1960, to the deputy commissioners through a notification in 2017 to issue detention orders subject to reasonable restriction.

Advocate Azhar Siddique, the petitioner’s counsel, argued that the government continued to target the PTI as four detention orders have been recently issued in Rawalpindi.

Justice Muhammad Amjad Rafiq adjourned the hearing till June 28 and sought personal appearance of the advocate general of Punjab.

The petitioner had stated the government issued wholesale detention orders of PTI leaders and workers under sections 3 and 16 of the MPO in wake of the May 9 episode.

She said the DCs at the behest of the provincial government misused their powers and issued detention orders for hundreds of political leaders/activists affiliated to the petitioner’s party without any reason.

She questioned raids at the residences of the workers/leaders and ransacking of their properties, if the purpose of the orders was preventive detention.

She pointed out that the Islamabad High Court had already declared the use of MPO unlawful in the capital territory.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2024

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