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Monday May 27, 2024

IHC forbids action against Sheikh Rashid in Sindh, Balochistan cases

AML chief Sheikh Rashid is facing two cases in Karachi, Lasbela, for passing "offensive" and "filthy" comments against FM Bilawal

By Arfa Feroz Zake & Awais Yousufzai
February 06, 2023
Police officials escort former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (centre) to present him before a court in Islamabad on February 2, 2023. — AFP/File
Police officials escort former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (centre) to present him before a court in Islamabad on February 2, 2023. — AFP/File

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday restricted the authorities from taking action against Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed in the two cases registered in Karachi and Lasbela.

The former minister — a close aide of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PIT) Chairman Imran Khan — has been named in two separate FIRs lodged at Mochko and Lasbela police stations, for passing "offensive" and "filthy" comments against Foreign Minister and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

Rashid is also facing charges of levelling allegations against PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for plotting to assassinate Khan, and threatening police personnel, in cases registered in Islamabad and Muree, respectively.

Seeking restraining orders against his transfer from the federal capital to Karachi in the relevant case, Rashid had filed a plea in the IHC.

Today's hearing

At the outset of the hearing, Rashid's lawyer maintained that the court had stopped the authorities from further action over the summons from Islamabad's Aabpara police station but the police registered a case on the same matter and arrested the former minister.

"Another FIR was registered in Karachi while Sheikh Rashid was already in police custody," the lawyer stated.

At this, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri inquired: 

"If poly clinic [Islamabad] is the place where the statement was given, how was a case registered in Karachi?” asked Justice Jahangiri.

The court also wondered how FIRs can be registered in different cities over the same incident.

The lawyer apprised that Rashid was facing multiple cases, referring to the case of threatening the police, which was registered at a police station in Murree.

The court inquired if the arrest had been made in all cases. At this, the lawyer informed the court that the arrest was made only in one case.

At this, Justice Jahangiri remarked that the law states that when an arrest has been made in one case, it has also been made in other cases.

Meanwhile, Rashid's lawyer maintained that the former minister was kept tied to a chair for six hours at an unidentified place. He said that Rashid was interrogated and tortured.

"I don't understand where this sequence will stop," Justice Mehmood remarked.

It remarked that during Rashid's tenure, cases were registered against the information secretary and managing director of the PTV.

“The same is happening with you. Think if the female information secretary was arrested and taken by Budh Bher police station what would have happened?” asked the court.

Later, the court issued restraining orders against action in the two cases in Karachi and Lasbela, while issuing notices to the respective bar councils, attorney-generals and advocate-generals in this regard and adjourned the hearing till February 9. 

Local court to hear Rashid's post-arrest bail plea tomorrow

Meanwhile, district and sessions court of Islamabad adjourned a post arrest bail plea hearing of the former interior minister till tomorrow.

The court had initially set 12pm today as the hearing time at the prosecution’s request.

The AML chief is currently in Adiala Jail on judicial remand for 14 days.

The cases

Initially, Rashid, according to the police, was arrested on February 2, in the case of levelling allegations against Zardari. Just a day later, Muree Police also registered a case against him.

The FIR was lodged at the complaint of investigation officer Ashiq Ali, from the Aabpara police station, Islamabad. Rashid threatened the police personnel and stated that he would not spare them, according to the FIR.

The FIR was registered under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Pakistan, charging Rashid with interfering in official affairs and resisting his arrest. The FIR states that the former minister physically pushed and abused the police officers and threatened them with serious consequences at gunpoint.

Besides the former minister, his two employees have also been implicated in the case.

The FIR was registered under three sections of the Pakistan Penal Code — 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), read the FIR.

A case had also been registered against Rashid in Karachi for using "filthy" language against Bilawal, an FIR under four sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) — including 500 (Punishment for defamation), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) — were registered against him.

According to the FIR, the AML chief used "highly offensive and disgusting" words against party chairman Bilawal during a media talk at the Polyclinic Hospital which led to anarchy among thousands of PPP workers.

A similar FIR in was registered in Balochistan's Lasbela district for using "filthy" language against Bilawal. 

The FIR includes five sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), including 500 (punishment for defamation), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), and 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions).