In a significant ruling on Wednesday, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) struck down the deputy commissioner’s directive to apprehend individuals implicated in the May 9 protests, under the controversial Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Section 3.
The aforementioned regulation had come under scrutiny in the high court of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
Advocate Naeem Ahmed Khattak, through the agency of Advocate Ali Azim Afridi, lodged a writ petition contesting the powers extended to district administrations under Section 3 of the MPO. The writ petition included the provincial government as a party, represented by the chief secretary and the law secretary, alleging the legislation to be flawed and unconstitutional.
The writ petition highlighted that Section 3 of the MPO allowed for citizens to be detained without any offered justification. It also argued that administrative officials were granted excessive powers to issue, execute, try, and penalize under these warrants.
Afridi contended that despite multiple Supreme Court rulings advocating for the separation of administration and judiciary, such judicial powers have been entirely stripped away under this law.
He emphasized the lack of due process under the MPO, asserting that individuals were being arrested and imprisoned without providing any explanation.
In response to these concerns, the PHC requested a statement from the K-P caretaker government regarding the arrests of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers under the MPO.
Despite these objections, K-P Advocate General Amir Javid argued against the admissibility of the writ petitions, claiming that they could not be heard due to the imposition of a state of emergency by the provincial cabinet.
A decision on the matter was delivered today by a two-member bench of the Peshawar high court, consisting of Justice Shakeel Ahmed and Justice Waqar Ahmed.
In a considerable victory for numerous PTI workers and leaders apprehended following the May 9 protests, the court ruled the provincial administration’s arrest order as unlawful.
The PHC also invalidated the deputy commissioner’s mandates for the arrests of PTI workers.