Islamabad: Release of 2 terror suspects ordered
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday declared the extension in the detention of two terrorism suspects by the Federal Review Board (FRB) as illegal, and directed the superintendent of Adiala Jail to immediately release them. Hearing a petition filed by the two, IHC Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman ruled that the FRB’s decision to extend the detention of Mohammad Ilyas alias Qari Jamil and Mohammad Rizwan alias Shamsul Haq was without any legal grounds. The FRB, a judicial body comprising Supreme Court Justice Nasirul Mulk and IHC Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi, examines the detention cases of high-profile terrorism suspects.
The two men arrested in January 2009 by the Rawalpindi police were facing the charges of terrorism and carrying explosive material and ammunition.
They were convicted by a judicial magistrate in Rawalpindi under section 13 of the Arms Ordinance 1965 and sentenced to three-year rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs20,000 each.
However, when the Lahore High Court (LHC)’s Rawalpindi bench acquitted them of the charges on April 4, 2011, an FIA deputy secretary issued their detention order in the same month which was extended by the FRB on October 10, 2011, November 2, 2011, and April 27, 2012.
The IHC chief justice, however, observed that the FRB on April 27 had extended the detention of the suspects for another three months after a briefing by Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in clear violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under article 9 of the constitution.
The court added: “It appears that the FRB order has been passed in mechanical manner without taking into consideration the realities of the circumstances existing in the case of the petitioners.” The petitioners (suspects) cannot be allowed to remain under detention for an unlimited period through repeated extensions in absence of any fresh allegation or incriminating evidence against them.
The superior courts in this regard have not hesitated in exercising its extraordinary constitutional jurisdiction in order to rectify such a grave injustice, it added.
During the hearing, the petitioners’ counsel Basharatullah Khan told the court that the police had booked the suspects in a false case of terrorism and they were later acquitted by the LHC.
However, instead of releasing the suspects, he added, the ministry of interior issued a detention order which was repeatedly extended by the FRB. He said the review board’s proceedings were not judicial, as there was no alternative remedy available for the detained suspects against its orders.
Deputy Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri maintained that the high cannot entertain the petition against the orders of a judge of the Supreme Court and the High Court.
He said the ministry of interior had issued the detention orders of the suspects on the recommendation of ISI and with the approval of the prime minister.