LHC declares PTI workers' detention illegal, orders release

Justice Safdar Saleem Shahid nullifies detention of PTI workers and leaders from 11 Punjab districts

Naveen Ali
The facade of the Lahore High Court. — LHC website
The facade of the Lahore High Court. — LHC website

  • Detention of PTI members from 11 Punjab districts nullified.
  • Arrest of Yasmin Rashid has also been declared null and void.
  • Court says government is "showing no application of mind".

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Thursday declared the detention of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers illegal and ordered authorities concerned to release them.

In the nine-page order, Justice Safdar Saleem Shahid ordered the release of party workers and leaders from 11 districts in Punjab — Lahore, Wazirabad, Jhang, Sheikhupura, Hafizabad, Sialkot, Mandi Bahauddin, Gujarat, Nankana Sahib, Gujranwala, and Narowal.

Following the order, the arrest of PTI core member Yasmin Rashid has also been declared null and void.

Khan’s party has been feeling the heat of the state’s might after his enraged workers attacked military installations, including the Lahore Corps Commanders House and the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, following his arrest in a corruption case on May 9 — a day the army dubbed as “Black Day”.

Thousands of workers who have been arrested in connection with the May 9 violence also include women, with the PTI claiming that their female supporters have been mistreated in prisons.

In the order, the court said unfortunately, unrest in the country ensued on May 9 after the arrest of a political leader.

"... [it] was flashed on media showing people came out for agitation and demonstrations and with no time it turned into unholy mob who committed mischief at different places in the country."

Confused in the situation, the court said, the government has opened a front, showing no application of mind, driven by passionate wishes; directed or dictated but not sound and logically started dragging the ordinary citizens in criminal litigation "with a ratio of one in 3 cases/proceedings minimum".

The government launched an attack on the acclaimed miscreants at the time when there was no law and order situation, a condition which necessitates for application of the law relating to preventive detention, the order mentioned.

"In case there was some criminal activity the government had sufficient time to collect the material and book the individuals in criminal cases, so that one could know about the nature of allegations to properly defend and answer the charge which is the essence of due process and access to justice as enshrined in Article 10-A of the Constitution."

The unpleasant and surprising events of May 9 under the shadow of an unbridled mob have defaced the peaceful and democratic image of the country and it was the responsibility of the government to arrange for law and order, but not in a way as resorted on the fateful time, the order mentioned.

"Riots are suppressed with force under the law as regulated under Section 127 to 132 of Cr.P.C. and not in the way adopted by the government to pick and detain the citizens under the umbrella of Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960 without registration of criminal cases."