Elahi arrested despite LHC’s clear orders

LAHORE:

The Islamabad police took former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi into custody on Friday, just moments after his release. This move comes despite the Lahore High Court’s explicit orders, which barred the Punjab police, anti-corruption agencies, NAB (National Accountability Bureau), and other law enforcement agencies from arresting him in connection with any FIR or inquiry.

During today’s court proceedings, Justice Amjad Rafiq ordered the Lahore High Court’s additional registrar for security, DIG Operations, and other senior police officials to ensure the safe return of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader to his residence.

Earlier in the morning, Justice Rafiq had instructed NAB authorities to release Elahi, emphasising that the petitioner should not be arrested by NAB or any other authority or agency, nor detained under any law related to preventive detention.

Furthermore, Justice Rafiq noted that the question of NAB’s authority to arrest the petitioner during the suspension of the restraining order was to be resolved through an inquiry into related facts and applicable laws, as raised by both parties in their divergent pleas and counterarguments.

Following this order, Elahi’s legal team expressed strong concerns, pointing out the contradiction between the court’s order to release him and the presence of Punjab police, anti-corruption officials, NAB, and other law enforcement agencies prepared to arrest him once more.

Former Punjab governor Advocate Sardar Latif Khan Khosa told the court, “It seems another plan to arrest Elahi has been prepared.”

In response, Justice Rafiq summoned the additional registrar security Lahore High Court, DIG Operations Ali Nasir Rizvi, DIG Investigation Imran Kishwar, and others before the court. Subsequent proceedings were held in chambers, where Justice Rafiq ordered the Lahore High Court’s additional registrar for security and the police high-ranking officials to safely escort Pervez Elahi to his residence.

Read: LHC asks NAB to explain Elahi’s arrest ‘drama’

Throughout the day, various rounds of proceedings took place, with the Lahore High Court remaining a focal point of public attention regarding the question of whether or not Elahi could be arrested.

In the first round of proceedings, Justice Rafiq directed the NAB authority to issue an arrest warrant for the Director General of NAB if Pervez Elahi was not produced within one hour. Expressing his displeasure over NAB and the provincial government’s conduct, Justice Rafiq remarked that the highest court in the province was being undermined and urged them to stop playing “Ping-Pong” with the Lahore High Court.

Despite being directed twice to produce Elahi before the court, NAB was unable to do so.

When proceedings began, Additional Advocate General Ghulam Sarwar Nihung argued that they were unable to obtain the court’s order to understand the specific order passed by the court the previous day. He also read out the provincial government’s letter, which cited ongoing operations against terrorism and security threats to politicians, including Pervez Elahi, as reasons for difficulties in producing Elahi.

NAB’s prosecutor responded by stating that NAB was ready to produce Elahi if the Punjab government could ensure security.

In response to the government and NAB’s conduct, Justice Rafiq remarked that every effort seemed to be made to undermine the court’s authority. He reminded the NAB’s law officer that their respect should be directed toward the courts.

The proceedings were adjourned briefly, and upon resumption, Elahi was still not produced. Justice Rafiq, without further hearing, adjourned the proceedings for half an hour.

Finally, NAB produced Elahi before the court, and Justice Rafiq ordered his release.

Justice Rafiq presided over a petition filed by Elahi, challenging his arrest by the National Accountability Bureau.

In his petition, Elahi claimed that his arrest was a clear violation of the Lahore High Court’s order, which had directed the Anti-Corruption Establishment, FIA (Federal Investigation Agency), NAB, Punjab Police, CCPO (Chief City Police Officer), DIG Operations, and others not to arrest him in any undisclosed or pending FIRs or inquiries.

The petitioner, Pervez Elahi, filed the petition through his counsel Amir Saeed Rawn, contending that the initiated inquiry on June 9, 2023, had never been disclosed by NAB to the court, despite the court’s order to provide information about all criminal cases or pending inquiries against the petitioner. Elahi argued that this inquiry fell under the category of undisclosed or unknown inquiries, and the arrest in such a case contravened the court’s directions issued on July 13, 2023.

Elahi also requested the court to declare the new investigation, for which a call-up notice was issued on August 25, 2023, as a violation of the court’s order, void, and of no legal effect.

He further urged the court to direct all respondents not to arrest him in any other undisclosed criminal case, inquiry, or investigation while he is at liberty, giving him the opportunity to approach the relevant courts of law if there are any criminal cases against him.


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