LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Saturday suspended detention notifications and ordered the release of 18 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) women workers, including former health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid, who was arrested in response to protest erupted after arrest of former premier Imran Khan May 9.
Moreover, Justice Safdar Saleem Shahid sought a report from the concerned quarters by May 15 in a plea seeking the recovery of the party’s former provincial minister Ali Afzal Sahi.
Police officials informed the court that Sahi was not in the custody of the police.
Dr Yasmin Rashid
During the proceedings, the petitioner’s counsel argued that Dr Yasmin was a senior citizen and a cancer patient. They argued that forged and faux first information reports were being registered against PTI leadership and workers.
The lawyers continued that in some cases, PTI workers were being detained under the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1960. They added that when the party initiates rallies, the government imposes Section 144 and restrains them from exercising their democratic right.
Justice Shahid asked if Section 144 could be imposed after the election date was announced, and the law officer parried the questions.
The judge also questioned what evidence the government had to detain her. The law officer stated that Dr Yasmin was the central Punjab president of the party and participated in every political activity. He added that had she avoided participating in the political activities, the detention order would not have been issued against her.
The officer stated that there were video clips that established the involvement of Dr Yasmin in the attack on the Lahore Corps Commander’s residence.
Justice Shahid remarked that the incident occurred on May 9 but the detention notification was issued on May 12, he suggested that an FIR should have been registered instead of detaining people. The law officer argued the unpleasant incidents could have not been stopped even if FIRs were registered, adding that Dr Yasmin was leading a crowd of thousands of participants.
Justice Shahid, after hearing detailed arguments, first reserved the decision and then suspended the detention notification with instruction to release the former minister with immediate effect.
Women workers release case
Justice Shahid heard several petitions filed by the relatives of the women workers and protesters seeking their recovery from the “illegal custody” of the police and jail authorities.
During proceedings, the counsels of the petitioners argued that the alleged detainees were respectable women, some of whom were members of the bar association while the others were household ladies.
They contended that the women were neither active members of any political party nor involved in any anti-state activities and had no connection with any political party nor were their activities prejudicial to police safety and maintenance of public order.
The lawyers continued that the women were falsely detained under the impugned order issued by the Lahore deputy commissioner on May 10, 2023, under the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1960.
The law officer informed the court that the women could not be released as they were detained under the aforementioned order.
However, Justice Shahid suspended the operation of the impugned order issued on May 10, 2023, ordering to release the women not required in any criminal case.
Former minister Ali Afzal Sahi
Justice Shahid also sought reports from concerned quarters by May 15 on an application seeking the recovery of former PTI provincial minister Ali Afzal Sahi.
During the proceedings today, the additional inspector general police told the court that neither the police arrested Sahi nor was he in their custody.
The petitioner’s lawyer told the court that Ali Afzal Sahi was arrested from the district bar office but his arrest was being concealed.
Police officials informed the court that they had formed a team to investigate the matter.
Justice Shahid sought a report from the concerned quarters to know who arrested the detainee and where he was shifted.