ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected application seeking transfer of a prisoner Mehr Abdul Sattar from a high security prison to the district jail.

A local political leader in Okara and representative of the Anjuman-e-Mazareen, who had been striving for the rights of poor peasants of District Okara since 1997, came to limelight when he ‘attempted to recover his and peasants’ agricultural land which was occupied for the ‘military farmhouses.’

After rejection of the application, the members of Anjuman-e-Mazareen outside the court room said that the only sin of Sattar was that he wanted his agricultural land back, which was allegedly occupied for ‘military farmhouses’.

The wife of Sattar contended that her husband had not been produced before the trial court even after his transfer to the high security prison in Sahiwal on multiple dates of hearing and the same clearly indicated mala fide on the part of the administration.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan took up the appeal of Sattar’s wife namely Shahida for hearing.

Shahida through Human Rights Activist Asma Jahangir (late) had challenged the orders of Lahore High Court (LHC) wherein it had rejected the transfer of prisoner Sattar from high security prison to district jail.

During the course of hearing, counsel Abid Saqi, on behalf of Sattar’s wife, informed the bench that 36 cases were registered against his client’s husband on account of retaliation for recovering of agricultural land from the ‘occupiers’. He further informed the bench that the accused has been acquitted in 32 cases.

Chief Justice told the counsel that in pursuance of top court’s earlier orders the aggrieved family has met with the accused.

The counsel replied in affirmative and said that the meeting was taken place and fetters have also been removed but the instant application is regarding shifting Sattar from the high security prison in Sahiwal to the district jail. However, the bench rejected the application. Shahida, the wife of Sattar, had made Secretary Home Department, District Police Officer (DPO) Okara, Superintendent High Security Prison Sahiwal and Superintendent District Jail as respondents.

On April 16 of 2016, Sattar was initially detained by DCO Okara under the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1960, thereafter the detention order was further extended for a period of 15 days.

Subsequently, another detention order was issued on May 30, 2016 under Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 (ATA, 1997) without stating any reasonable ground therein, according to the copy of appeal. 

The Anti-Terrorism Court judge in Lahore had ordered the detention of the Sattar for 90 days in preventive detention for inquiry for the reason that the government had received ‘complaints’ and credible information as well as reasonable suspicion of his involvement in actions prejudicial to national security and inciting sectarianism.

The appeal stated that the detention orders as well as the order of the learned judge ATC were illegal, unlawful and arbitrary since they overlooked the charge against Sattar as he was initially apprehended for his alleged involvement in a number of criminal cases. 

On March 9 of 2017, the Home Department Punjab directed the relevant police officials to shift Sattar to high security prison and the same department requested the court for trial of the accused to be conducted within jail premises through a video conferencing facility as the High Security Prison is a sensitive institution where high profile terrorist/sectarian convicts are kept under custody.