A division bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday restored the powers of the Islamabad chief commissioner and deputy commissioner to detain individuals under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO), which were earlier revoked by a single-member bench.
Comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, the two-member bench heard a government appeal against the decision of Justice Babar Sattar and, after arguments, allowed the district administration to perform its functions.
In his arguments, Additional Attorney General Munawar Iqbal Duggal noted the Presidential Order of 1980 was protected through a 1985 constitutional amendment. As Article 270 protected the said order, he argued, it could not be termed ultra vires to the Constitution. In this regard, he requested the court to suspend the single bench’s ruling until a final decision on the appeal.
In his ruling on the detention of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shehryar Afridi under the MPO, Justice Sattar had stripped the deputy commissioner of his powers to detain individuals under the order, while also withdrawing the chief commissioner’s power to govern the federal capital. This had, effectively, made the capital administration dysfunctional, as it declared the framework to govern the city ultra vires.
The order had also directed the federal government to govern Islamabad until new rules to operate the provincial government were finalized and had set a three-month deadline to achieve this.