In a major relief, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday declared the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader and former state minister for interior Shehryar Afridi as “unlawful and void”.
Afridi along with his wife was picked up on May 16 from his residence in Islamabad under Section 3 of Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance 1960, which enables the government to arrest persons “acting in any manner prejudicial to public safety”. His wife, however, was released later on the orders of the IHC.
On May 30, Afridi was briefly released on completion of his “house arrest” period under the MPO. The police arrested him shortly after being released from Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail as the Rawalpindi deputy commissioner had extended Afridi’s house arrest under MPO for another 15 days.
In the meantime, a petition was filed in the IHC challenging his arrest and seeking better facilities for the former state minister.
After hearing arguments from both sides, IHC judge Arbab Muhammad Tahir, in his verdict, said: “The detention orders issued by the District Magistrate, Islamabad under the MPO against the Petitioners was a result of arbitrary exercise of jurisdiction, excessive use of lawful authority and issued without applying judicious mind.”
“The said detention orders, therefore, cannot be validated by this court and are, therefore, declared unlawful and issued while excessively using his lawful authority by the District Magistrate, ICT,” it added.
Afridi will be deemed to have been arrested in the criminal case registered against him, the judge noted and directed the police to produce him before the judicial magistrate in Islamabad forthwith.
In addition to this, the IHC ordered the Margalla police to return the mobile phone of Afridi’s wife, which was taken into custody by the police officials during her arrest.
The conduct of the district magistrate and the Incharge Police Station Margalla in the case was “deprecated”, observed the court.
“In case the petitioner is not produced before the court of competent jurisdiction at Islamabad till 07.06.2023, the petition seeking initiation of proceedings under the Contempt of Court Ordinance shall stand revived and the respondents shall appear in person to explain as to why contempt proceedings may not be initiated against them for misleading this Court in order to hinder the course of justice,” warned the judge.