ISLAMABAD – The country’s top judge has categorically denied any possibility of curbing the freedom of people in a democracy just to ensure national security, a comment which could be very objectively linked with the recently passed law ‘Protection of Pakistan Ordinance’ (PPO).
The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, was addressing a full court reference on Friday when he made the comment.
He said “Usurping the freedom of people could not be allowed in the war against terrorism on the pretext of national security and preservation of democracy.”
The chief justice added that Pakistan was plagued by several wars besides terrorism and sectarianism. He said the country was also waging a war against the abuse of minorities, women and children.
The country’s top judge further said it was our responsibility to stand united for Pakistan.
PakistanTribe reported on April 8 that one lawyer Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi had moved the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the controversial law PPO.
The ordinance was rushed through the National Assembly on April 7 despite strong resistance from the opposition benches. The government is expected to table PPO in the Senate on April 14 where opposition parties, though divided, have an overwhelming majority in the house.
The treasury benches passed the PPO on Monday, April 7, when lawmakers of all the opposition parties were demonstrating the boycott of the parliamentary session. However, after the approval of bill, the opposition benches never forgot to demonstrate their ‘legislative rights’ by tearing apart the copies of law and surrounding the National Assembly’s speaker.
The ordinance says the government may “authorize the detention of a person for a period … that shall not exceed 90 days if, in the opinion of the government, such person is acting in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, security, defense of Pakistan.” It also allows the government and armed forces to withhold details of where anyone detained under the order is being held.
Under the new law, suspects can be tried in ‘special courts,’ which are allowed to exclude the public from hearings and withhold details of proceedings. Anyone facing charges under the ordinance must demonstrate his or her innocence to a court—reversing the usual legal burden of proof. Security forces have also been granted powers to open fire on anyone they see committing or ‘likely to commit’ any of a list of terror-related offences.
The law also applies to suspects already in custody.