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Pakistan’s top court stops release of TLP chief Saad Rizvi

LAHORE – The Supreme Court on Monday barred the authorities from implementing the Lahore High Court’s order to release Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Saad Hussain Rizvi.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazhar Ali Akbar was hearing a petition filed by the Punjab government against the LHC order to free the TLP head.

The apex court has remanded the case to an LHC’s two-member special bench, directing it to hear arguments from both sides.  

On October 1, LHC had declared the detention of Saad Rizvi “illegal” and ordered his release. The provincial government in its petition argues that the release order did not fulfill all legal requirements.

In today’s hearing, the Punjab government’s lawyer said that 12 people including three policemen were killed in protests held in April 2021, urging the government to expel the French ambassador over the publication of blasphemous caricatures in France.

When Justice Naqvi asked the government counsel if a notification had been issued for Rizvi’s detention under the Anti-Terrorism Act, he replied in affirmative.

Replying to a court’s question, Saad Rizvi’s uncle and counsel said that the TLP chief was in detention when the violence occurred. They informed the court that Rizvi has been detained by the government for six months without any reason.

On October 1, the Lahore High Court declared the detention of Rizvi as illegal in response to a plea filed by his uncle.

Following the court orders, the Lahore deputy commissioner directed the release of Rizvi. In addition, the DC’s order had referred to two earlier decisions taken by the federal review board of the Supreme Court (SC) with regards to Rizvi’s detention.

Earlier, a review board of the LHC also rejected the Punjab Home Department’s request to extend Rizvi’s detention under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance, 1960.

The new TLP chief was nabbed earlier in April under the MPO ordinance for inciting his followers as the government had reneged on its promise to expel the French envoy.

The federal government also declared TLP an outlawed organisation under anti-terrorism laws and launched a broad crackdown against the party. Prime Minister Imran while commenting on the matter said the officials had taken action against the TLP as it challenged the ‘writ of the state’.

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