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Govt gets three days to decide Afaq's plea against detention

December 09, 2011

The SHC issued the directive in response to a constitutional petition challenging Afaq’s detention under the MPO Ordinance, 1960. — File photo

KARACHI, Dec 9: The Sindh High Court directed on Friday the provincial authorities to decide the application against the detention of Mohajir Qaumi Movement (Haqiqi) chairman Afaq Ahmed under the much-reviled public order law within three days and place the order to this effect in court for a judicial review.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam was seized with a constitutional petition challenging the MQM-H leader's detention under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960.

Syed Iqbal Kazmi, a self-styled civil rights campaigner, had initially filed an application against the detention of Mr Ahmed under the MPO law for a second time in the SHC that treated the application as a petition.

The court on Wednesday had directed the home secretary and provincial police chief to file within three days their respective counter-affidavits along with the material forming basis for Mr Ahmed's detention under the MPO law.

On Thursday, Advocate General Abdul Fatah Malik vehemently contested the maintainability of Mr Kazmi's application as a petition.

He contended that the remedy under the MPO law rested with the authority concerned and suggested that an application against the detention could be moved to the authority concerned.

He also produced some material on the basis of which the detention order was passed.

The bench observed that the material was already attached to the detention order of Nov 29.

Advocate Khurrum Maqsood, appearing for the MQM-H chief, provided a copy of an application of Afaq's brother, Amjad Shafqat, against the MPO order to the advocate general.

The court directed the provincial chief law officer that the application should be treated as representation within the contemplation of the MPO Ordinance and be decided within three working days.

The bench further ordered: “Let a copy of the order that may be passed on such application by the authority be provided to the petitioner and placed on record for examination by the court in exercise of powers in judicial review”.

The hearing was adjourned to Dec 12.

Mr Ahmed was detained on Nov 29 for 30 days a little after his party men completed all legal formalities for his release in the afternoon.

He was put behind bars under the MPO law first time on Sept 26 after he was ordered to be released by the court as he was either granted bail or acquitted in all cases against him.

The petition against the MPO order was filed late in the afternoon by Mr Kazmi.

The petitioner stated in the petition that Mr Ahmed's detention was illegal and unconstitutional.

He prayed to the court to declare the detention under the MPO law illegal and order his immediate release.

It may be recalled that the SHC had on Oct 7 disposed of Mr Ahmed's earlier petition challenging his detention under MPO after the detention order was withdrawn by the provincial authorities.