On Wednesday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) granted permission for the release of detained PTI leaders Shehryar Afridi and Shandana Gulzar. Their appeals, contesting the extended detentions under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) ordinance, were under review. Additionally, the IHC declared its resolve to hold Deputy Commissioner Irfan Nawaz Memon accountable, as he and a senior superintendent of police (SSP) are poised to be indicted for contempt of court.
These developments stem from the arrests of Afridi and Gulzar in connection with the May 9 violence. The IHC’s decision came a day after show-cause notices were issued to several officials, including DC Memon, Inspector General Dr. Akbar Nasir Khan, the city’s chief commissioner, and other police personnel. They were being held accountable for potential “criminal contempt of court” for obstructing justice.
In the current hearing, presided over by IHC Justice Babar Sattar, the responses of the summoned officials were found to be unsatisfactory. Consequently, both DC Memon and SSP are now slated for indictment for contempt of court in the upcoming session. The court instructed IG Khan to disclose the identities of the station house officer (SHO) and the district police officer (DPO) tied to Afridi’s case. Show-cause notices are to be issued to these police officials as well.
While the MPO orders against the PTI leaders were suspended, allowing them to be released within Islamabad’s boundaries, they were directed to refrain from issuing any media statements during the ongoing case. Justice Sattar emphasized the accountability of the IG and chief commissioner for the well-being of Afridi and Gulzar, underscoring the potential consequences if anything untoward occurs.
During the hearing, intricate details emerged regarding Afridi’s alleged role in incitement and a purported plan to attack the district courts. The judge probed the basis of his arrest and the handling of intelligence reports. The police’s response to these matters was critiqued, leading to the judge’s call for a comprehensive report from IG Khan.
Moreover, DC Memon’s responses were thoroughly scrutinized, with the judge noting the recurrence of the same reasons in both the May 16 and August 8 MPO orders. Finding these responses inadequate, the court decided on DC Memon’s indictment for contempt. Similarly, the SSP’s response was deemed lacking, paving the way for his indictment as well. The IHC’s interest in the notifications empowering DC Memon to issue the MPO order was evident.
The court also directed the two leaders not to make any media statements while the case is ongoing.