LAHORE: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday issued a notice to Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi with regards to a petition filed by the Punjab government challenging a Lahore High Court (LHC) decision to grant bail to the firebrand cleric.
Rizvi was booked for launching violent protests against the acquittal of Christian blasphemy convict Aasia Bibi last year.
A two-member bench of the apex court, comprising Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik and Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin Ahmed, took up the provincial government’s petition at the Supreme Court Lahore registry.
As the hearing went underway, the apex court bench asked the Additional Prosecutor General Mazhar Sher Awan of “Rizvi’s main crime”. To which, Awan responded that the firebrand cleric had given seditious speeches against the judiciary and “riled up people”.
Justice Malik observed that the arguments presented were the facts of the case and ordered Awan to “speak about the law”.
The judge then inquired: “What is wrong with the high court’s decision to release Rizvi on bail?” To which the additional prosecutor general could not provide the court with proper assistance.
Subsequently, the top court issued notices to the TLP chief on the Punjab government’s appeal and adjourned proceeding.
Rizvi and the then TLP patron-in-chief, Pir Afzal Qadri — who is also nominated in the same case — were granted bail in May this year. Qadri’s bail expired on July 15 but was extended on medical grounds.
The two were taken into “protective custody” by the state during a crackdown in November 2018 after the TLP announced it would observe martyrs’ day on Nov 25, 2018.
The provincial government, in its appeal, has argued that the high court “did not fulfill legal requirements” in its decision to grant bail, which was made in May this year.
The petition said that there was enough evidence against the TLP chief and urged the top court to nullify the high court’s verdict.