Lahore: Pakistan's Punjab government has sought an early hearing by the Supreme Court on its petition challenging the Lahore High Court's decision to release LeT operations commander and Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi.
“We have requested the apex court for early hearing on the Punjab government's petition against the LHC's verdict to suspend detention of Lakhvi,” Punjab Assistant Advocate General Shan Gull told PTI today.
The Punjab government on April 14 had filed the petition in the apex court pleading that the Lahore High Court (LHC) had suspended the detention of Lakhvi under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance despite seeing “sensitive documents” against him.
To a question as why the Supreme Court is not fixing the date of hearing on the Punjab government's petition, Gull said, “The Supreme Court only takes up urgent matters. However we have requested the apex court to fix early date for hearing of our petition,” he said.
On the other hand, Lakhvi's counsel Raja Rizwan Abbasi has said the government's petition stands “withdrawn” after the LHC disposed of the detention matter of his client.
“The LHC had taken up the matter of Lakhvi's detention by the Punjab government in the light of the interim order of the Supreme Court. As the LHC disposed of the matter, the Punjab government has lost the legal ground to challenge the LHC's order (to suspend Lakhvi's detention) before the Supreme Court,” Abbasi told PTI.
He further said, “The government's petition stands withdrawn as it is no more effective after the LHC had disposed of the matter”.
Gull however did not agree with Abbasi saying “the government's petition does not stand withdrawn”. The Punjab government in its petition said the release of Lakhvi had created problems for it.
“Besides, there are chances that the investigation into Mumbai attack case may also be affected because of the release of Lakhvi,” it said, seeking restoration of Lakhvi's detention under the security act.
Justice Muhammad Anwarul Haq of Lahore High Court on April 9 had suspended Lakhvi's detention as the government failed to present “sensitive documents” against him in court.
The government's counsel presented “sensitive reports” prepared by intelligence agencies about the activities of Lakhvi but the judge expressed dissatisfaction over it observing “the reasons cited by the government for the petitioner's detention were not enough”. On April 10, Lakhvi was released from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi after about six years of his arrest in the Mumbai attack case.
The government managed to keep him behind bars under the security act for nearly four months after the trial court granted him bail on December 14, 2014. Pakistan faced strong criticism from India over the release of Lakhvi. India had questioned Pakistan's commitment to fight terrorism.
The Pakistani government is facing a dilemma over Lakhvi's release. It can neither challenge Lakhvi's detention in court nor plead it to take up the matter of his bail after it set a two-month deadline for the trial court to conclude the case.
Lakhvi, and six others - Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum - have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attack in November, 2008 that killed 166 people. The case has been pending since 2009.