Legal experts oppose protection ordinance

LAHORE - Legal experts have opposed the Protection of Pakistan (Amended) Ordinance, 2014, saying its provisions were a blatant violation of articles 9, 10, 14 and 25 of the Constitution.

President Mamnoon Hussain had promulgated the ordinance, designed to fight terrorism and lawlessness in Karachi and other restive parts of the country and to deal with the missing persons issue.

The amended ordinance regulates detention of terror suspects for more than three months by law-enforcement agencies.

Akram Qureshi, a retired high court judge, said the ordinance was a clear violation of Article 10 of the Constitution that states every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before a magistrate within a period of 24 hours.

He was of the view that the government had no justification for promulgating such ordinances in presence of Parliament.

“It seems the amended PPO has been promulgated to defeat the Supreme Court at the time when it is hearing the missing persons case very effectively,” Akram said.

“The ordinance will not provide any sigh of relief to the countrymen as it empowers law-enforcement agencies to grab people’s rights,” he added.

He maintained that no such ordinances or laws could be promulgated in the country whose provisions were ultra vires to the Constitution.

Judicial Activism Panel Chairman Muhammad Azhar Siddique said the provisions of the amended PPO were a blatant violation of Articles 9, 10, 14 and 25 of the Constitution.

“In presence of Parliament and Constitution, immense powers cannot be given to law-enforcement agencies through an ordinance.”

The JAP chairman said the Protection of Pakistan Act was pending with Parliament since many months. He wondered a federal government having a two-thirds majority in Parliament needed the ‘crutches’ of an ordinance.

He announced to challenge the amendments before the Supreme Court shortly. Senior lawyer SM Zafar, however, had a divided opinion.

He said the provisions of the amended PPO were in a clear violation of the Constitution, but not harmful in war-like situations.

“No doubt, this is a cruel step, but the government doesn’t have any other option when the masses and security forces are being targeted by terrorists,” he maintained.

He added that many countries including the United States had promulgated such law and ordinances during war-like situations.

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