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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Shandana Gulzar’s Detention Order Suspended, Pending Further Hearing

IHC Justice Babar Sattar set aside the detention orders under the MPO and issued directives for PTI leader Shandana Gulzar's release.

In a significant court decision, the Islamabad High Court has suspended the detention order of PTI’s Shandana Gulzar Khan on the grounds of insufficient evidence and lack of jurisdiction. The decision was reached after careful consideration of the arguments presented by both parties in the case.

The case revolved around the detention of Shandana Gulzar under Section 3 of the West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960 (MPO). The petitioner’s counsel contended that the detention was ordered without proper material or objective basis and was therefore in violation of Gulzar Khan’s right to liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.

The learned counsel for the petitioner argued that the District Magistrate’s decision to detain Shandana Gulzar was solely based on vague and unsubstantiated reports issued on August 9, 2023. It was asserted that these reports lacked credibility and failed to provide concrete evidence to justify the detention.

Read More: IHC Judge Babar Sattar suspends MPO orders against Shehryar Afridi

The court noted that the District Magistrate had referred to source reports generated by Intelligence Bureau and Special Branch, which alleged that Shandana Gulzar was planning to incite lawyers and mobilize the general public. However, when pressed by the court to provide material establishing the link between Gulzar Khan and the alleged incitement, the District Magistrate requested additional time to produce the necessary evidence.

After a thorough examination, the court found that there was no objective basis for the District Magistrate’s conclusion that Shandana posed a threat to public safety. Furthermore, the court raised concerns about the delegation of authority to issue detention orders under Section 26 of the MPO.

In light of these findings, the court suspended the impugned detention order and ordered the immediate release of Shandana Gulzar Khan. She was permitted to reside at her residence in Islamabad during the pendency of the case, with the condition that she would not leave the territorial jurisdiction of the court without its permission.

The responsibility for the safety of Shandana Gulzar Khan was placed upon the Inspector General of Police, Islamabad, and the Chief Commissioner Islamabad. Both officials were directed to ensure that Gulzar Khan could attend court proceedings safely.

The case is set to be further examined on August 28, 2023, alongside another related matter (W.P No. 2491 of 2023), during which the District Magistrate is expected to file a detailed report along with substantial evidence to establish the necessity of the detention.

This court decision marks a significant step towards safeguarding individual liberties and ensuring that any deprivation of liberty is based on clear and compelling evidence, in accordance with the law. The outcome of this case will likely have implications for future detention orders under the MPO and related ordinances.