ISLAMABAD - Member National Assembly (MNA) Jamshed Dasti Monday moved a writ petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and challenged the newly enacted Protection of Pakistan Act (PPA), 2014.

A single bench of IHC comprising Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi will take up the petition on Tuesday (today).

Petitioner MNA Dasti filed the petition through his counsel Saeed Khurshid Ahmad Advocate and cited federation of Pakistan through secretary ministry of law, justice and human rights and secretary interior as respondents. In the petition, the MNA has prayed to the court that the Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014 may be declared bad law, as its provisions are contrary to the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution. He stated that in the last week the Parliament passed the PPA, 2014 with objective to provide protection against waging war or insurrection against Pakistan and the prevention of acts threatening the security of Pakistan.

"The legislation provided overriding effects in section 23 without repealing existing laws and it provided details of scheduled offences in the schedule under section 2 (l). The use of armed forces and police was provided in section 3 whereas the procedure of investigation was provided in section 5. The detention in secret internment camps was authorised and above all any Pakistani citizen would be treated enemy alien once he is rightly or wrongly booked under any of the scheduled offence," he added. 

He informed the court that the prosecution was made absolute authority for the transfer of case from one special court to another under section 17(2) whereas the principle of fair prosecution was altogether changed by excluding the application of Qanoon-e-Shahdat Order, 1984. The report under section 173 CrPC 1898 filed by the joint investigation team through the public prosecutor was itself made valid piece of evidence (section 7). The most horrible part of the legislation was that the person booked under the law was presumed to be an enemy alien unless he proved otherwise (section 15).

"The Criminal Procedure Code, 1898 was made applicable (section 3) but the most important provisions of the Code Section 374, 426,435, 439, 439-A, 491, 496, 497, 498 & 561-A were made inapplicable (section 18). The appeal was provided against the decision of special court only against the final judgment before the High Court (section 19)," maintained the petitioner.

Jamshed Dasti remarked that any police officer of BS-15 was authorised to shoot at site any Pakistani citizen whenever he feels reasonable apprehension of commission of any schedule offence. The state has set itself free from inquiry into the killing of innocent citizens by not making mere judicial enquiry into the killing.

"The reasonable apprehension as defined in section 3 (2) (i) to (v) shows lack of humanity of the lawmakers. The unchecked power to enter and search the house has been allowed in this legislation. The person arrested can be placed in secret internment camps (Section 6) without disclosing his identity & without providing him right to engage legal practitioner/lawyer of his choice to help him prove innocence. The arrested person shall be presumed to be enemy alien until he proved otherwise (section 15)," the MNA told the court.

Dasti was of the view that the police culture in Pakistan generally and in the South Punjab specially is not reliable at all. "We see poor policing and excess of police authority in more than 90 % of cases handled by the police. The politicised police have been made absolute authority which indirectly means that Gullu Butt characters of Sharifs all over the country shall play havoc with the life, liberty, property and honour of the innocent people in the same way it was done in Lahore Model Town incident," the petitioner mentioned in the petition.

His counsel Saeed Khurshid contended that the schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 could be amended by the federal government and all offences provided in the Schedule of Act, 2014 could be made triable by the Anti-Terrorism Courts already working in the country. "The new infrastructure, judges, prosecution etc will take extra time and finances for making de novo set-up for the enforcement of the Act, 2014 & interestingly the incumbent ruling party had enacted the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 but why the machinery applying the anti-terror law has not been relied now is a very big question to be answered by the rulers," he said.

He argued that the most horrible part of the Act 2014 is that anyone arrested or apprehended under the alleged violation of its schedule shall be presumed to have committed insurgency and waging war against Pakistan and he shall be an enemy alien until he proved otherwise through independent evidence.

"The right to be represented through lawyer for defence of allegation against him is altogether missing in the Act, 2014 whereas Article 10(1) of the Constitution has ensured this right to the accused of any offence.

The report under section 173 CrPC 1898 to be submitted by the prosecution has been made admissible in evidence. The onus to prove the innocence has been placed on the accused that shall have no right to visit his family or lawyer because of his detention in the secret places or internment camps to be established.

The change of law shows mockery of the government which admit its incapability to apply the existing valid laws of the land," pointed out the counsel.

Therefore, he prayed that the petition may be accepted and writ, declaring the PPA, 2014, bad law and repugnant to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, may be issued in the interest of justice.