Islamabad | Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the 2008 Mumbai terror attack mastermind, would remain in jail after Pakistan’s Supreme Court today overturned the High Court order suspending his detention under a public security act which evoked a strong reaction from India.
A two-member Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja set aside the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) order and admitted the government’s appeal against the suspension of LeT operational commander Lakhvi’s detention. The apex court also referred the case back to the High Court for a complete hearing before giving a final decision.
The IHC seemed to have taken the decision in a hurry. It did not hear the government’s arguments in the case. The case is being referred back to the IHC which should conclude hearing after giving an opportunity to the government to give its arguments, Justice Khawaja remarked. The court also restrained a judicial magistrate from proceeding on the bail application of 54-year-old Lakhvi filed against him in a kidnapping case against till the fresh verdict of the IHC.
In a joint appeal, the secretary interior on behalf of the government, district magistrate Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and Islamabad senior superintendent of police, had sought the annulment of the December 29, 2014 IHC order, suspending Lakhvis detention order under Maintenance of Public Order. Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt argued the IHC order was not sustainable in the light of earlier Supreme Court judgements and pointed out that Lakhvi was a member of the proscribed outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) arrested in a terrorism case.
On the other hand, the government has already challenged in IHC the Anti-Terrorism Court Islamabad’s decision to grant Lakhvi bail. Yesterday a two-member bench of IHC headed by Justice Shaukat Siddiqui took up the government’s plea against the trial court’s decision to grant Lakhvi bail. It summoned Lakhvi for arguments in the case on next hearing.
On December 18, 2014, the anti-terrorism court granted bail to Lakhvi, who was involved in planning, financing and executing the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008. He was again detained on next day under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO). However, Islamabad high court judge Noorul Haq Qureshi had suspended Lakhvi’s detention under MPO, evoking a strong reaction from India.
India raised the issue with Pakistan both in New Delhi and Islamabad, with Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh summoning Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit and Indian mission taking it up in Islamabad with the Pakistan Foreign Office. Just before he was to be released, Lakhvi was arrested on charges of kidnapping Afghan national Muhammad Anwar Khan.
The police kept him at the Shalimar Police station here for a two-day physical remand before a magistrate sent him back to Adiala Jail on January 2 for a 14-day judicial custody. He will be produced before the magistrate on January 15. 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 attacks that left 166 people dead.
Lakhvi was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the six others on November 25, 2009 in connection with the case. The trial has been underway since 2009.
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