LAHORE  -  Grant of bail by an anti-terrorism court to PML-N workers facing charges of incitement to violence on arrival of party patron Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz and similar treatment of notorious ‘encounter specialist’ Abid Boxer by the court were important developments last week.

The ATC granted bail to several PML-N leaders and workers, including former federal minister Kamran Michael and former MNA Mehr Ishtiaq, and directed them to deposit Rs100,000 surety bonds each. The other leaders who secured bail include deputy mayor Mehr Mehmood, Muhammad Afzal, Basharat Ali, Malik Asif, Sharafat Ali, Mian Faisal, Muhammad Shabbir, Baqar Hussain, Mehr Imran and Muhammad Razzaq.

Appearing before the court, they said they did not incite people to violence; they just took out rallies to welcome former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz at Lahore airport and the police booked them under terrorism charges.

They said they neither damaged the public property nor did they incite people to violence. Holding protest or taking out rallies, they said, was their right and they remained peaceful. The petitioners asked the court to allow them bails, pleading that they were ready to join the police investigation.

The other interesting bail that grabbed the attention of many was the bail of infamous ‘encounter specialist’ Abid Boxer, who was booked in 10 cases, including murder, attempted murder, illegal occupation of land and forgery.

It was quite mysterious that how a person who was arrested by Interpol and was in the custody of law enforcement forces since February could come independently to the court to secure bail in his cases.

In a surprise appearance along with his lawyer Advocate Aazar Latif Khan in the sessions court, Abid Boxer said he was happy at his return to Pakistan and would reveal many secrets very soon with proof. Wearing black glasses and black T-shirt, Boxer was looking very confident and optimistic about his cases.

Responding to a query whether he was forced by anyone to give any statement, he answered in the negative. One of his aides said to reporters he (Boxer) would use Facebook to share details of his cases.

Earlier, Advocate Aazar Latif Khan, the counsel for Abid Boxer, appeared in the court of an additional district & sessions judge and contended that police booked his client in 10 cases. He said he did not commit any crime and was just implicated. He asked the court to grant him interim bail, so that he is not arrested. On this, Additional District & Sessions Judge Rehmat Ali allowed him interim bail.

On July 18, the federal government informed the Lahore High Court that former police inspector Abid Boxer, who was earlier taken into custody by the UAE police, was in Pakistan since February. Acting Chief Justice Muhammad Anwarul Haq was hearing the petition moved by Jaffar Rafi, father-in-law of Abid Boxer, to prevent Boxer’s killing in a possible encounter.

On the reply of the federal government, the acting CJ directed the police authorities to produce him (Boxer) in the court at the next hearing on July 27.

Jaffar Rafi said there was a strong apprehension that Pakistani police would kill Boxer in a fake encounter after bringing him back to the country with the help of Interpol. He asked the court to summon record of all the cases and order the FIA and the police to ensure protection of Boxer. He pleaded that right of fair trial of Boxer should be protected as guaranteed under Article 10-A of the Constitution.

Abid Boxer was a police inspector who joined the police department in 1988. He also served as Station House Officer with the department. However, he fled the country in 2008, fearing that he would be killed in a fake encounter. Through a video statement, Boxer said he fled the country to save his own life but his maternal uncle was subjected to police torture who finally lost his life. He said he was nominated in a number of fake cases including murder, attempted murder and illegal occupations of land.

At Lahore High Court, a single bench consisting of Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi referred to the chief justice a petition challenging NAB law under which former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (r) Muhammad Safdar were convicted, for fixation before any appropriate larger bench.

Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi while hearing the petition observed that important points have been raised by the lawyer, therefore, a larger bench should be constituted for its hearing.

Senior lawyer A K Dogar had moved the petition and questioned the entire accountability law. He said this was the law that was promulgated by former military dictator/president Pervez Musharraf under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) No. 1 of 1999 as well as order No. 9 of 1999.

Dogar prayed to the court that after the 18th Amendment and insertion of Article 270-AA in the Constitution, the NAB Ordinance is no more an effective law and has become non-existent and a dead letter. He also prayed to the court to set aside all proceedings being conducted under the law, which is non-existent.

After hearing arguments of the petitioner, Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi sent the petition to the chief justice and asked him to constitute a larger bench for hearing.

Another important petition that came up to the high court last week was the petition moved by PML-N against Punjab police’s non-cooperative attitude. Party’s Lahore chapter President Pervez Malik filed the petition stating that police refused to give them information about the FIRs registered against the party leaders and workers in connection with taking out rallies on arrival of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam at Lahore airport.

He said police also harassed the workers despite that they did not violate the law. The Sections of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 were put in the FIRs registered against them, he said. He asked the court to order the police to provide them copies of all FIRs registered against the party workers.

Acting Chief Justice Muhammad Anwarul Haq heard the petition who ordered the police to provide details of the FIRs with the PML-N. On this, police submitted a written report to the court that only 87 FIRs were lodged against the PML-N workers throughout the province. Justice Haq barred the police from extending threats to party workers and directed the petitioner to come up with arguments at the next date of hearing.

The high court disposed of another petition seeking directives for the Election Commission of Pakistan to provide certified details about polling stations, polling booths and polling staff to the contesting candidates. The court gave two days to the commission to decide the petition in accordance with law. Yasin Sohal of the PML-N had moved this petition who said that provision of details would be helpful in dispelling the impression of possible rigging in the upcoming general elections.

The LHC last week also barred the caretaker provincial government from impounding or engaging vehicles of private transporters for their use on the polling day, and directed it to submit reply.

Big Way and other private transport companies had moved the petitions stating that the government had started impounding their vehicles coercively for the purpose of transporting polling staff. They said they did not fall within the definition of public transport but offered transport services to the employees of private institutions and industries.

They said a number of private industries would suffer a lot if the government was not barred from capturing their vehicles. They prayed to the court to restrain the government from impounding their vehicles and also order immediate release of the seized vehicles.