ISLAMABAD: A day after the Punjab government challenged in the Supreme Court a Lahore High Court (LHC) order directing it to release the chief of the proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party, the top court Tuesday referred the matter back to a two-member special bench of the lower court to decide after hearing arguments from both sides.
Saad Rizvi, son of the late firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, was arrested in April on charges of inciting his followers and party activists to take the law into their own hands after, according to him, the government had reneged on its promise to expel the French ambassador over the publication of blasphemous caricatures.
His detention was scheduled to end on July 10 in light of a decision of the review board of the Supreme Court. However, the office of the deputy commissioner issued a fresh notification extending the detention for another three months under Section 11-EEE (powers to arrest and detain suspected persons) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
During the proceedings on Tuesday, the government’s counsel argued before a two-judge bench — comprising Justice Ijaz ul-Ahsan and Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi — that 12 people, including three police officers, lost their lives during the violent protests in April.
He recalled the LHC review board had not extended Rizvi’s detention. At this, Justice Ahsan asked whether a gazette notification of detention had been issued according to the anti-terrorism provisions to which he was informed that it had been.
The counsel for Rizvi, Burhan Moazzam Malik, argued “the government does not have the authority to extend detention after 90 days.”
“Saad Rizvi has been in jail for six months without any reason,” he said.
The bench subsequently remanded the matter to the high court for a two-judge special bench to decide after hearing the case.
On August 2, Rizvi, through his uncle, filed another petition with the high court, claiming the government extended his detention with “mala fide intention”. He said it implicated him in 14 criminal cases following his detention.
Through the petition, Rizvi’s uncle asked the court to declare the extension of the detention period illegal and order his release. Two weeks later, on August 17, the court sought replies from the authorities on the request.
Subsequently, on October 1, the court declared as illegal the detention of Rizvi. Following the court order, the Lahore deputy commissioner, Umer Sher Chattha, also issued orders for his release.
The Punjab government argued in its October 11 petition that legal requirements were not met in the LHC’s direction, paving the way for Rizvi’s release. Additionally, it said there were reports by intelligence agencies that Rizvi’s continued detention was necessary to prevent workers of the proscribed organisation to create a law and order situation.