ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Thursday indicted the Deputy Commissioner (DC) and the SSP operations for the contempt of court for prolonging detention of PTI leaders Shehryar Afridi and Shandana Gulzar under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) ordinance.
Justice Babar Sattar indicted DC Irfan Nawaz Memon, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Operations Jamil Zafar, Superintendent of Police (SP) Farooq Buttar and Station House Officer Nasir Manzoor.
The officials, on the occasion, submitted to the court their replies in the case. Justice Sattar remarked that today charges were to be framed.
During the hearing, the judge asked the officials whether they were now aware of the charges against them. Both the deputy commissioner and the SSP pleaded not guilty.
When the judge asked them whether they wanted to say something in their defence, the SSP replied that he wanted some time from the court. A day ago the IHC stripped Islamabad’s district magistrate of his powers to detain suspects under the MPO while hearing the contempt of court petitions.
The PTI leaders had been arrested by police in connection with the May 9 violence. On Aug 16, the IHC ordered Afridi and Gulzar to be released and decided to indict the DC and SSP for contempt of court after deeming their responses to court as “unsatisfactory”.
On Tuesday, the IHC had also issued show-cause notices to the city police chief, chief commissioner and other police officials for “criminal contempt of court for abuse of authority to obstruct dispensation of justice and cause diversion to the course of justice”.
Today (Thursday), as proceedings to indict DC Memon began, the official furnished an unconditional apology and requested the IHC to not indict him.
The DC and the three other officers denied the charge after they were indicted, with SSP Zafar seeking time to defend himself.
At the outset of the hearing, the advocate general presented his arguments against indicting the officers. He urged the IHC to not indict them as the “officers have furnished an unconditional apology”.
To this, Justice Sattar said, “How can we not indict them? The matter of contempt of court was under way here yet you issued an MPO order. The court rejected the advocate general’s plea and initiated the indictment proceedings.
Justice Sattar, while addressing DC Memon, said, “If you are sentenced, you will be sent to jail at the most. “It is a six-month sentence. You may also live in jail and see how those who you send to jail live there,” he remarked.
Tthe DC replied, “The aim of this [detention] order was not to violate the court order at all.” He then furnished an unconditional apology to the court, which was rejected. Subsequently, DC Memon’s indictment order was read out aloud and he was indicted.
Then, the proceedings to indict SSP Zafar for the same charge were initiated. Justice Sattar read out aloud the SSP’s indictment order and he was charged with the offence, which he denied. At this, the IHC asked him if he wished to defend himself, for which he sought more time from the court. SP Buttar and SHO Manzoor were also indicted for the contempt.
Afridi was first arrested on May 16 from his Islamabad residence under Section 3 of the MPO Ordinance, 1960. He was rearrested on May 30 under the same section soon after his release from prison.
On July 31, the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench granted Afridi bail but was arrested again a few days later by the Rawalpindi police soon after his release from Adiala jail.
A petition was subsequently filed by his lawyer in the IHC calling for Afridi’s release and for the MPO order to be set aside.
Meanwhile, Gulzar was allegedly “abducted” by the Islamabad police on Aug 9.
A petition was filed by her mother in the IHC on the grounds of illegal arrest and violation of Articles 4, 9, 10A and 14 of the Constitution, calling for police to produce her daughter in court. (NNI)