The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday declared the detention of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, illegal and ordered his release. The ruling means Lakhvi could be released as early as Saturday, though the government can still appeal to the Supreme Court.
In a verdict that was reserved last week, Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi of the IHC suspended the detention orders by the Islamabad administration as capricious, mala fide and without legal foundation.
Lakhvi’s lawyer Rizwan Abbasi had challenged a third extension in the detention of his client, stating that all of the statements related to the case were in Hindi language.
Abbasi told The Express Tribune that after the court ruling, authorities in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, where Lakhvi is incarcerated, were bound to release his client but the government was still adamant which clearly indicated Indian pressure.
Abbasi said he has submitted the court order before the jail authorities. “I will file a contempt application against the administration for not complying with the court orders,” he added. Adiala Jail Superintendent Malik Mushtaq Ahmad Awan was not available for comments.
Justice Qureshi observed in his order that the respondents failed to present any material before the court to justify the detention order under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO).
The court directed the respondents several times to present the material, but Islamabad’s advocate general and additional advocate general offered lame excuses that they intended to present the record before the review board.
“In my humble view, on the basis of oral assertions, detention of Lakhvi cannot be declared justifiable,” stated the order. Consequently, the petitioner may be set at liberty immediately, if he is not required in any other case.
On December 18, 2014, Islamabad’s Deputy Commissioner Mujahid Sherdil issued Lakhvi’s detention orders under the MPO, which was subsequently extended for a third time. The prime objective of the detention was to prevent Lakhvi from attending any public meeting and potentially regrouping.
However, Abbasi argued that an anti-terrorism court had granted bail to his client; but the government was flouting the court orders by not releasing him.
Lakhvi, a senior figure of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, is accused of planning, financing and executing the Mumbai attacks which killed over 160 people. He is also facing a six-year old kidnapping case which was registered by the capital police last year. On Friday Lakhvi was to be indicted in the case, but he did not appear due to security reasons. The indictment was deferred third time for next week, said special prosecutor Amir Nadeem Tabish.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2015.
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