WEB DESK: During the ongoing law and order operations in Karachi, some prominent political personalities have been arrested before, but what happened on Friday was extraordinary both for the manner in which MQM Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly, Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan, was apprehended by the police and released on the orders of Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah who also suspended the arresting officer.
According to details, a police party had raided the MQM leader’s residence during the day to arrest him but he was not at home. He surely learned about it and complained to CM Shah who ordered suspension of the SHO for leading the raid.
That though did not dampen his senior officer, SSP Rao Anwar’s spirits. As soon as the MQM leader returned home escorted by some senior party colleagues, he showed up along with a large police party and arrested Hassan. Once again, the CM intervened, this time to order Khawaja Hassan’s release and suspension of the arresting officer with immediate effect. Soon after the incident, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called CM Shah to express appreciation and support for his action.
The reaction of both the provincial and federal leadership defies logic though it is not surprising considering that in our country the police are expected to comply with the wishes of their political masters at all times. Which is why, the Sindh CM had no qualms about penalising two officers without ensuring if they had committed any illegality. In fact, he made plain his thinking about the police role as he averred “nobody would be allowed to erode the authority of the government.
This is a very serious issue and we would not tolerate any such move that [challenges the] writ of the government.” The statement suggests that it is for the government to decide who the law enforcers could arrest or spare, irrespective of legal merits of a case. In a somewhat similar vein, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid argued that “without the Speaker’s permission the arrest of any member of Parliament [in the present case, provincial assembly] is illegal” adding – without, of course, being conscious of the inherent contradiction – that “the rule of law should be ensured at every cost.” He needs to get his facts right.
The Speaker’s permission is not necessary; he/she only needs to be informed of a legislator’s arrest. And under the rule of law, all citizens are equal; legislators have rights and obligations like any ordinary person.
After SSP Rao’s defiant action, speculation continues to abound as to his motive. He, however, has simple but compelling explanations for arresting the MQM leader: One, that there are two FIRs and a non-bailable warrant of arrest on the basis of which he took legal action against Khawaja Hassan. Second, as per the law, “if there is an FIR registered against anyone, a sub-inspector has the powers to arrest such a person nominated in the FIR, and he has no need to seek permission from anyone.”
And third, no one but a court of law has the authority to free or grant bail to a person so arrested. So far as legalities are concerned, he is on solid ground. The government would be well-advised not to politicise the case, and let the law take its own course.
Source: Business Recorder