LAHORE: A Lahore High Court review on Wednesday rejected appeal of the Punjab government seeking extension in detention of Jamat-ud-Dawa Chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and ordered it to release him.

A source in the Punjab government , however, said the authorities are planning to keep JuD Chief under house arrest in another case pending against him.

A three-member board headed by Justice Abdul Sami Khan and comprising Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan and Justice Aalia Neelum passed the order when the provincial and federal governments failed to bring any convincing evidence against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

The move comes just days after the US defence department persuaded Congress to drop a provision that had linked reimbursements to Pakistan with demonstrable action against Laskhkar-e-Taiba. 

The officials of the interior ministry , foreign affairs, commerce, finance and law officers appeared before the board during an in-camera proceeding. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was produced under high security arrangements.

During the proceedings, the officials presented reports and evidences before the board pleading that detention of Hafiz Saeed be extended for three months. They said that Pakistan might face cut in financial funding and support if Hafiz Saeed is released.  

However, the board members observed that Hafiz Saeed had already been in detention for last 10 months and he could not be kept in detention for more period under the law. The judges asked the officials to present any cogent evidence against his involvement in any anti-state activity. However, the officials failed to present any solid evidence.

The board had earlier directed the finance ministry to furnish the evidence to justify detention or extension in detention of JuD Chief.  The ministry also could not convince the board which ordered release of the detainee.

After expiry of his detention order on Thursday, Hafiz Saeed would be released on Friday.

On October 25, the Review Board extended for 30 days detention of Hafiz Saeed which would expire on the evening of November 23. According to Maintenance of Public Order, 1960, if a board does not grant extension in detention of any person it automatically gets expired.

Hafiz Saeed had been in detention for last 10 months since the federal government on January 28 asked the provincial government to detain him. On it, the Punjab government detained him and four others including Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal Shahbaz, Abdur Rehman and Qazi Kashif Hussain.

They used to appear before a federal review board. However, the government later detained them under Maintenance of Public Ordinance, 1960 after which the provincial review board comprising judges of the Lahore High Court was constituted which a week ago ordered release of four aides of the Hafiz Saeed .

Talking to the reporters outside the courtroom, Saeed said, “I’m thankful that the lawyers and the entire nation is with them. It is not just mine but the case of Pakistan.”

“It is a slap on the face of India as we have established that Pakistan is a free state,” he added.

Hafiz Saeed vowed that India could not cause any harm to Pakistan. “Kashmir would soon be free.” His supporters showered rose petals on him and also chanted slogans in his favour.