The Punjab government on Tuesday informed Pakistan's Supreme Court that it wanted to withdraw its petition challenging a lower court's order that released Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed from detention, saying it did not have adequate evidence against him.
The provincial government's surprise move comes hours before a meeting between the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan in Egypt to review the progress made by Islamabad to bring to book perpetrators of Mumbai attacks.
When two petitions challenging Saeed's release from house arrest were taken up by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, Punjab Advocate General Muhammad Raza Farooq informed the court that the provincial government wanted to withdraw its appeal.
Farooq told the court that the Punjab government did not have adequate evidence against Saeed. He also said federal authorities had not shared any proof against the JuD leader with the Punjab government.
The Chief Justice then sought the views of Deputy Attorney General Shah Khawar, who was in court to represent the federal government. Khawar asked for time to hold consultations with Farooq so that a final decision could be conveyed to the court.
Attorney General Latif Khosa too reached the courtroom and went outside with Khawar and Farooq for consultations. They were joined by senior legal officials.
The court briefly adjourned the matter and it is expected to be taken up again in the afternoon, sources said. The federal and Punjab governments are expected to give their final decision to the bench when it reconvenes, they added.
Farooq told reporters that the Punjab government wished to withdraw its petition since the federal government was not cooperating with it. He also said the authorities in Punjab did not have tangible evidence against Saeed.
Sources said the federal government was considering the option of asking the apex court to put off the case for three days so that federal bodies and the government’s legal team could hold consultations on the issue.
The Supreme Court yesterday began hearing the two petitions filed by the federal and Punjab governments to challenge Saeed’s release on the orders of the Lahore High Court on June 2.
Saeed and and his close aide Col (retired) Nazir Ahmed were placed under house arrest in December last year in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.
On May 2, a judicial review board of the Lahore High Court extended their detention by 60 days. However, acting on a petition filed by Saeed, the High Court ordered their release on June 2.
In their petitions filed in the apex court, the federal and Punjab governments said the High Court had not considered the sensitivity of the case, especially in view of Pakistan’s ongoing operations against internal and external terrorism.
The petitions also said the High Court had made a wrong assertion that the detaining authority had no evidence against Saeed.