KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday issued notices to provincial authorities and others on a petition challenging the second notification about extending the detention of four men set free by the SHC after setting aside the trial court order in the abduction and murder case of US journalist Daniel Pearl.
Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, commonly known as Omar Shaikh, Fahad Naseem, Salman Saqib and Sheikh Adil through their counsel moved the SHC against a fresh notification issued by the provincial authorities on July 1 for their further detention for three months. Earlier, they had also challenged the first notification issued in April for their 90-day detention.
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro issued notices to the advocate general of Sindh and the prosecutor general of Sindh as well as to the home department and other respondents for Aug 20.
The counsel for the petitioners contended that the provincial authorities had ordered detention of the petitioners under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960 for a period of three months on April 2 shortly after the judgement of the SHC on their appeals.
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He further submitted that on July 1, the provincial home department had issued another notification extending their detention for another three months under Section 11-EEE (powers to arrest and detain suspected persons) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
According to the second notification, the names of these four individuals were included in the Fourth Schedule under the ATA on the recommendations made on June 26 by the provincial police officer and the additional inspector general of the Counter Terrorism Department for their alleged affiliation with terrorist originations and involvement in terrorist acts.
According to the notification, the provincial government was of the view that the apprehension existed that they may indulge in networking and terrorism if released and therefore required to be detained under Section 11-EEE of the ATA for a period of three months.
The lawyer argued that the petitioners had been behind bars for the past 20 years and despite being acquitted by the court they had not been set free yet.
He maintained that the detention was not in accordance with law and pleaded to set aside the July 1 detention notification.
On April 2, a two-judge bench of the SHC acquitted all the appellants from charges of murder and kidnapping for ransom and only found main accused Ahmed Omar Sheikh guilty of abducting the slain journalist and sentenced him to seven years in prison. However, the sentence had been completed since the convict had already spent around 18 years in detention.
An antiterrorism court in Hyderabad had sentenced Sheikh to death in 2002 for kidnapping and murdering the 38-year-old South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal for ransom and co-accused were awarded life term for helping the main convict.
The provincial government and the parents of the slain journalist have already challenged the SHC order before the Supreme Court and on June 29, the apex court had refused to entertain the Sindh government’s request to suspend the SHC order.