Pak SC frees Saeed; India disappointed

India disappointed over Pak SC decision on release of Hafiz Saeed from house arrest.

Last Updated: May 26, 2010, 00:10 AM IST

New Delhi: Expressing disappointment over
Pakistan Supreme Court`s dismissal of appeals challenging the
release of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed from house arrest, India
on Tuesday hoped that Islamabad will take "meaningful action" to
address its concerns.

"There is a sense of disappointment. I am sure
everybody in this country will share same sense of
disappointment on this development especially when we regard
Hafiz Saeed as one of the masterminds of the Mumbai terror
attacks and he has openly urged jihad against India," Foreign
Secretary Nirupama Rao said here.

Adding that enough evidence has been given to Pakistan
on role and activities of Saeed, she said, "Now since Pakistan
has assured us that it will not allow its territory to be used
against India, we hope Pakistan will be sensitive to our
efforts and take meaningful action."

Saeed, also the founder of the banned Lashker-e-Taiba
(LeT), was put under house arrest in December 2008 in the wake
of the Mumbai attacks after the UN Security Council declared
the JuD a front for the LeT.

The JuD chief challenged his detention in the Lahore
High Court.

Saeed was freed on June 2 last year by a three-judge
bench of the High Court that said that Punjab and federal
governments had failed to provide sufficient evidence to keep
him in custody.

Following pressure from India and the international
community, the federal and Punjab governments had challenged
the High Court`s ruling in the apex court.

Pakistani leaders like Interior Minister Rehman Malik
and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have contended that
India has not provided any evidence that will allow
authorities to act against Saeed.

Home Minister P Chidambaram has maintained that India has
provided sufficient evidence against Saeed in several dossiers
handed over to Pakistani authorities.

Earlier the appeals against the court`s order to release Saeed were filed by the federal and Punjab governments last year but could not be taken for various technical reasons.

"The appeals are dismissed," said Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk,
the head of the three-judge bench that heard the matter on Tuesday.

Saeed (60), also the founder of the banned LeT, was put
under house arrest in December 2008 in the wake of the Mumbai
attacks after the UN Security Council declared the JuD a front
for the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

After he challenged his detention in the Lahore High
Court, Saeed was freed on June 2 last year by a three-judge
bench that said the Punjab and federal governments had failed
to provide sufficient evidence to keep him in custody.

Following pressure from India and the international
community, the federal and Punjab governments challenged the
High Court`s ruling in the apex court.

Differences between the federal and Punjab governments
and the change of certain legal officials of Punjab province
held up the matter in the apex court.

India believes Saeed is the mastermind of the 26/11
attacks that killed 166 people, including foreigners, and
carried out by the LeT. New Delhi has been demanding action
against him for his involvement.

But, Pakistan has been maintaining that India has not
provided any evidence that will allow authorities to act
against Saeed.

Top Indian leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh, have expressed their disappointment over people like
Saeed "roaming freely" in Pakistan.

The Supreme Court bench also upheld the High Court`s
order to free two of Saeed`s close aides, Col (retired) Nazir
Ahmed and Maulana Amir Hamza.

Saeed`s lawyer A K Dogar said the bench issued a short
order that said authorities had failed to produce any evidence
that linked the JuD chief to the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

"The prosecution failed to prove its case," Dogar told
PTI.

Dogar recalled that the Lahore High Court had ruled that
Saeed`s detention in the wake of the Mumbai attacks was wrong
as there was no evidence against him.

"The appeals filed by the federal and Punjab governments
were pending for long. When they came up for hearing on Tuesday,
the bench said the prosecution should take them back or
present their arguments. They made their arguments but could
not convince the judges," he said.

Additional Attorney General K K Agha, who appeared on
behalf of the federal government, said there were allegations
that Saeed was involved in the Mumbai attacks.

The government also had to take action against him
under UN Security Council resolutions, he said. The bench
asked Agha whether he had any fresh material against Saeed.

It also asked Agha whether Saeed had violated the law
of the land or indulged in any "objectionable activity" during
the past one year when he was not under house arrest.

Agha told the court that Saeed was living a "peaceful
life".

The bench then observed that the liberty of a citizen
is sacred and the law does not allow the detention of anyone
without a lawful reason.

Justice Jawad S Khwaja, another member of the bench,
said a person`s right to freedom cannot be taken away on the
basis of mere assumption.

The bench said it was compelled to dismiss the appeals
as the government had failed to provide concrete evidence
against Saeed.

However, it said the government could file a fresh
appeal in future if it is able to produce any new evidence.

JuD spokesman Yahya Mujahid said the SC ruling also
lifted the stigma from the "charity group".

"With the grace of god, the court ruling in our favour
proves that JuD, its chief and its workers are not
terrorists," he was quoted as saying by a news agency.

Pakistani leaders like Interior Minister Rehman Malik
and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi have contended that
India has not provided any evidence that will allow
authorities to act against Saeed.

Home Minister P Chidambaram has maintained that India
has provided sufficient evidence against Saeed in several
dossiers handed over to Pakistani authorities.

PTI