Lahore: A Pakistani court has ordered the removal of the names of 25 activists of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), including the chief of the ruthless sectarian group, from an anti-terror ‘watch list’.

The activists, including the main SSP leader Abid Akram, had filed a petition against the Home Department of the Punjab government in which they contended that they had been exonerated in all cases registered against them.

They said authorities had placed their names on a ‘watch list’, maintained under the Anti-Terrorism Act, without ‘any valid reason’ and that their movements were restricted to their hometowns.

The SSP activists asked the Lahore High Court to direct authorities to remove their names from the "watch list".

A law officer on Monday submitted a report on the Home Department's behalf to the High Court, which however expressed its dissatisfaction at the report and allowed the petition filed by the SSP activists.

The High Court observed that the Home Department had failed to furnish any fresh evidence against the petitioners.

It directed authorities to remove their names from the "watch list" and to issue a notification in this regard.

The Supreme Court had recently set free Malik Ishaq, the leader of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sister organization of the SSP.

Following Ishaq's release, the LeJ carried out a series of attacks on the minority Shia community in different parts of Pakistan.

Subsequently, authorities placed Ishaq under house arrest last month under the Maintenance of Public Order law.

The LeJ and the SSP are considered the most notorious of Pakistan's sectarian groups.