Nusrat Fatima, daughter of Pakistan’s former president Asif Ali Zardari.
On Friday, the Supreme Court had put a halt to the detention of Nusrat Fatima Zardari, daughter of Pakistan’s former president Asif Ali Zardari, and sent her on a 14-day transit remand. The Supreme Court dismissed Zardari’s appeal against the Sub-Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order Act (MPOA) section that had allowed her to be detained.
The moment the judgment came, senior counsel M L Sharma, who appeared for Fatima, told The Indian Express that he has filed an urgent plea for removal of the section that had allowed Zardari to be detained. In his petition, he has demanded that the section should be read with Section 144 that regulates public gatherings, which have now been struck down.
Sharma argued that Section 144 and MPOA have been struck down due to their disproportionality in Section 144, and so it was expected that MPOA would also be struck down. This section, he said, “shares the burden of penalising violating it equally with the maximum fine that would be imposed under the ordinance. By putting more conditions that are not there in the ordinance, the State is trying to justify this law which is unconstitutional”.
The counsel said that now that the Supreme Court has set a date for hearing the petition, the rest of the process will be “taken care of” by March 9. The next hearing will be on April 7.
Zardari’s predicament made international headlines. But what is more important is the public clamour from across the country for accountability of the parties in power.
Dr Vimal Kumar, who had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Thursday, said, “It’s not the for the purpose of her appearance in court but for exposing the wrongdoings of the Pakistan Peoples Party. We are against encroachment of the judiciary. But we also have a moral responsibility to intervene where we can. If a citizen has an extrajudicial detention, she is entitled to a bail. The campaign against her detention in a non-judicial detention is based on a fundamental legal principle, which I fully stand behind.”
The Maharashtra government also joined the chorus.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The government is against political persecution. We have filed an appeal in the Bombay High Court seeking the unwarranted detention of Fatima. Her detention is a political persecution.”
Additional Advocate General (AG) Ravi Raj, appearing for the Maharashtra government, said “the impugned section is inconsistent with the process of law and cannot be enforced in the light of our stand against any unlawful arrest or detention.”
The State of Maharashtra believes that Fatima is being targeted to destroy the democratic traditions in the country by bringing back her late sister, Benazir Bhutto, a PML-N leader and former PM of Pakistan.
And so, the court’s intervention sparked protests by PPP workers across the country and Pakistan. The political party announced that there will be no celebrations on Saturday, as the Pakistan PML-N government would not accept the decision, PTI quoted Imran Khan, the party chairman as saying.
“The PML-N government will not accept the decision of the Supreme Court,” Khan said. “I declare today as a day of mourning.”
The PTI, however, did make a New Year’s statement that was as difficult to predict as it was brutally hard to believe.”I look to unite behind Bhutto so that we will be defeated in Pakistan in the hands of the Pakistani terrorists,” PTI chief Imran Khan had said in his speech on New Year day.
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