LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday ordered to release chief of Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), Hafiz Saeed who was kept under house arrest since January. The JuD chief was to be released on Thursday. The Punjab government had asked for an extension to Saeed’s detention but the request was turned down by the court.
Hafiz Saeed was detained after the United States pressurised the federal government to do so; and India expressed severe reservations. Hafiz has been accused of being the mastermind of 2008 attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people.
However, Hafiz Saeed, through his lawyer AK Dogar Advocate, had challenged his detention orders submitting that the requirements laid by the Supreme Court for the purpose were not fulfilled. He requested the court to set aside the detention and order his release.
The provincial authorities had detained him and his four aides under Section 11-EEE (1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1977, on January 31 this year. Nonetheless, the authorities decided to keep Saeed and his aides under house arrest under Section 3 of the MPO.
The review board under the chair of Justice Abdul Sami Khan passed these orders after a senior finance ministry official failed to convince the board that the release of Saeed would bring diplomatic and financial problems to the country.
During the last hearing, the government while seeking extension in the detention orders had argued that Saeed could not be released because the move would result in financial sanctions and a halt in foreign funding to the country. In response, the board had directed the government to send an official from the finance ministry to explain how release of a single individual would affect the entire country.
The JuD chief had been placed under house arrest on January 31 for 90 days. Subsequently, his house arrest had been extended several times. Following the decision, Saeed told media that an end to his detention is tantamount to the victory of truth, calling it “a serious blow” to India’s demands.
Earlier, Saeed’s counsel informed the board that a court had declared the detention of his four aides as illegal. He argued that there is no proof against him and he had been detained illegally. He alleged that the government had placed him under house arrest to oblige the United States. Seeking an end to his detention, Saeed argued that his captivity without any legality amounts to a violation of the Constitution and his fundamental human rights.
The counsel of the federal government argued that the release of four associates of Saeed had created law and order issues. He also argued that his release may warrant international sanctions against the country. However, the board rejected the plea to extend his detention on the grounds of insufficient evidences.
Following the decision, admirers of Hafiz Saeed chanted slogans and showered him with rose petals.