Deputy commissioners’ detention powers under 3-MPO declared ‘illegal’

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ISLAMABAD: In a sigh of relief for the former ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday declared the powers vested in the deputy commissioners to send anyone to jail under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) illegal.

In recent days, a number of PTI leaders and workers, including the party’s Vice Chairman Shah and senior leader Shehryar Afridi, were arrested under the 3-MPO. The PTI, however, sees the police actions as a denial of a level playing field in the run-up to the February 8 general elections.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Babar Sattar reserved the verdict on November 23 on two separate petitions moved by PTI leaders Shehryar Afridi and Shandana Gulzar against their detention orders under 3 MPO.

In the verdict announced today, the court ruled that the Islamabad deputy commissioner did not have the powers to issue 3-MPO and stated that the powers should be vested in just the federal cabinet.

Declaring Section 18 of the 3-MPO 1980 illegal, the court wrapped up the PTI leaders’ pleas.

It is pertinent to mention here that the duo was taken into custody under Section 3 of the MPO in connection with their alleged involvement in the May 9 riots, which were triggered after the arrest of PTI founder Imran Khan.

Afridi was first arrested from his Islamabad residence on May 16. Despite a release order, he was immediately rearrested under the same section on May 30.

The PTI politician was then granted bail by the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench on August 3. But his freedom was short-lived as Rawalpindi police once again took him into custody following his release from Adiala jail.

Meanwhile, Gulzar was allegedly picked up by Islamabad police on August 9.

However, the detention orders against the PTI politicians were suspended with the IHC ordering their immediate release on August 16. The court had barred the district magistrate Islamabad from issuing arrest orders under MPO till further orders.