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Pakistan may be skirting constitutional limits on judicial detentions: report

[JURIST] The government of Pakistan, which has kept Pakistani Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] and several other judges and lawyers under preventative detention since President Musharraf declared emergency rule [text; JURIST report] on November 3, may be attempting to avoid constitutional restraints on the duration of those detentions, according to a Tuesday report [text] by Pakistan's The News daily. According to The News, the constitution requires that in order for preventative detention to be extended beyond 90 days, a review board must hear the cases and decide whether to extend the detention. The 90-day period for Chaudhry and other detainees expires January 31. Thus far, the government has not referred the cases to the review board. Rather, the government has explained that Chaudhry and the other deposed judges are not under detention at all, as they are not being held pursuant to a court order, and thus do not qualify for review. As for the lawyers, it is the government's position that they are in the custody of provincial governments, not the federal government, and thus do not qualify for review. Clause 4 of Article 10 of the Constitution of Pakistan [text] says:

No law providing for preventive detention shall be made except to deal with persons acting in a manner prejudicial to the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, or external affairs of Pakistan, or public order, or the maintenance of supplies or services, and no such law shall authorise the detention of a person for a period exceeding [three months] unless the appropriate Review Board has, after affording him an opportunity of being heard in person, reviewed his case and reported, before the expiration of the said period, that there is, in its opinion, sufficient cause for such detention, and, if the detention is continued after the said period of [three months], unless the appropriate Review Board has reviewed his case and reported, before the expiration of each period of three months, that there is, in its opinion, sufficient cause for such detention.
Chaudhry has been under virtual house arrest since at least November 5 [JURIST report], when an Army major locked him in his residence and took the keys. Last week, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) agreed to relax [JURIST report] its ongoing boycott of the post-emergency judiciary [JURIST news archive] to Thursday of every week and one hour of every day in order to avoid hardship to litigants. The PBC continues to protest the removal of Chaudhry and refuses to recognize the legitimacy of replacement judges who had taken oaths of office under President Pervez Musharraf's now-abrogated Provisional Constitutional Order [text]. IANS has more.

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