ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday indicted capital Deputy Commissioner (DC) Irfan Nawaz Memon and three others for contempt in a case pertaining to the prolonged detention of PTI leaders Shehryar Afridi and Shandana Gulzar under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) ordinance.
Justice Babar Sattar presided over the hearing during which the court also indicted Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) operations Jamil Zafar, Superintendent (SP) Farooq Buttar and Station House Officer (SHO) Nasir Manzoor.
The development comes a day after the IHC stripped Islamabad’s district magistrate of his powers to detain suspects under the MPO while hearing the same petitions.
The PTI leaders had been held by the police in connection with the May 9 violence, with Afridi first arrested on May 16 and Gulzar taken into custody on August 9.
On August 16, the IHC had allowed Afridi and Gulzar to be released and decided to indict the DC and SSP for contempt of court after deeming their responses to the court as “unsatisfactory”.
A day prior to that, the IHC had also issued show-cause notices to the city police chief, chief commissioner and other police officials for “criminal contempt of court for abuse of authority to obstruct dispensation of justice and cause diversion to the course of justice”.
Today, as proceedings to indict DC Memon began, the official furnished an unconditional apology to the IHC and urged the court to not indict him.
The DC and the three other officers denied the charge after they were indicted, with SSP Zafar seeking time to defend himself.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Sattar, while addressing DC Memon, said, “If you are sentenced, you will be sent to jail at the most. “It is a six-month sentence. You may also live in jail and see how those who you send to jail live there,” he remarked.
At this, the DC replied, “The aim of this [detention] order was not to violate the court order at all.” He then furnished an unconditional apology to the court, which was rejected.
Subsequently, his indictment order was read out aloud and the police official was indicted.
Afridi was first arrested on May 16 from his Islamabad residence under Section 3 of the MPO Ordinance, 1960. He was rearrested on May 30 under the same section soon after his release from prison.
On July 31, Afridi was granted bail by the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench but was picked up a few days later by the Rawalpindi police soon after his release from Adiala jail.
A petition was subsequently filed by his lawyer in the IHC calling for Afridi’s release and for the MPO order to be set aside.
Meanwhile, Gulzar was “allegedly” abducted by the Islamabad police on August 9. A petition was later filed by her mother in the IHC on the grounds of illegal arrest and violation of Articles 4, 9, 10A and 14 of the Constitution, calling for the police to produce her daughter in court.