Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Hafiz Saeed, leader of the Jamat-ud-Dawa, filed a petition in the Lahore High Court through his lawyer on Thursday for quashing two Anti-Terrorism Act cases that were filed against him in Faisalabad city last week.

A division bench of the Lahore High Court will hold a preliminary hearing of the case on Monday.

“The main argument of the petition is that the Jamat-ud-Dawa is not a banned organisation, it is not a proscribed organisation, therefore this law is not attracted in this case,” A.K. Dogar, the lawyer for Saeed, told The Hindu.

Two cases were filed against Saeed last week for glorifying jihad and seeking donations for his group during a visit to Faisalabad, 130 km from Lahore, in the last week of August.

The cases were registered under Section 11 F (4) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which clearly states that it applies to organisations that are proscribed under the Act. The JuD does not fall in this category as it was never proscribed.

“Any member of an organisation that has not been banned can speak on religious subjects,” said Mr. Dogar.

The petition also argues that registering a case in this instance is a violation of Article 19 that guarantees the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression, and Article 20 that gives citizens freedom to propagate their religion.

The petition notes the time-lag between the dates on which Saeed made the speeches in question, and the date of registering the cases, and argues that action was taken against the JuD chief only to “appease” India.

Mr. Dogar said he had also appealed for a stay on the operation of the two FIRs until the case is decided.

It was being anticipated that Saeed, on whom the police has imposed some restrictions of movement since Sunday night, could be placed under house arrest or arrest on the basis of the FIRs on Thursday, when Pakistan reopened after a five-day Eid break.

But Mr. Dogar said no arrest warrant had been served to his client yet.