Tuesday February 20, 2024

Islamabad court allows two-day physical remand: Fawad Chaudhry arrested for threatening ECP, members

A district and sessions court in Islamabad late Wednesday night approved a two-day physical remand of Fawad Chaudhry in a sedition case

By Asim Hussain & News Desk & Shakeel Anjum
January 26, 2023
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry in cuffs. Twitter
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry in cuffs. Twitter

ISLAMABAD: A district and sessions court in Islamabad late Wednesday night approved a two-day physical remand of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry in a sedition case.

The Islamabad police had sought an eight-day physical remand of the PTI leader, however, the court did not approve the request and asked the authorities to present the PTI leader on January 27.

Following the order, the capital police shifted the former federal information minister to the Counter-Terrorism Department’s (CTD) Complex in Sector H-11.

The police — during the time that the verdict was reserved — also took Fawad to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), where he underwent a medical checkup and was declared fit.

Earlier, an Islamabad district and sessions court reserved its verdict in the sedition case against the PTI senior leader Fawad Chaudhry after the Islamabad police arrested him from Lahore for threatening the Election Commission and its members.

Fawad’s lawyers told the sessions court that the charges were politically motivated and since the PTI leader made the statements in Lahore, his case should have been registered in the city and not Islamabad.

Earlier, the Kohsar Police Station registered an FIR (No. 69/23) under sections 153-A, 506, 505 and 124-A of PPC on the complaint of Secretary ECP Omar Hamid Khan, saying the accused used threatening language against the commission and its members.

Speaking to the media and people, the accused threatened the ECP members and their families, said the FIR.

The FIR indicates that Fawad Chaudhary said the status of the ECP had been reduced to that of a ‘Munshi’.

The FIR, quoting Fawad Chaudhry, said those who become part of the caretaker government will be pursued until they were punished. He also said the people sitting in the government would be chased to their homes.

Police said the accused would be kept in the lockup till obtaining his physical remand from the court.

The top cops of the federal capital police avoided recording the police version but the sources disclosed that Fawad would be shifted to another place, probably the Police Lines Headquarters, as a preventive measure and would be investigated.

The sources ruled out immediate arrest of any PTI leader without any reason and warned that nobody was above the law and the people violating the law would not be spared.

Asim Hussain adds from Lahore: Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court (LHC) Wednesday disposed of a petition seeking to declare Fawad’s arrest illegal and directed the petitioner, Fawad’s cousin Nabeel Shehzad, to approach the relevant forum.

The petitioner had sought to recover Fawad from the police custody pleading that his arrest was illegal and amounted to habeas corpus under a sedition case filed in Islamabad on the Election Commission’s complaint.

Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh held that Fawad’s arrest was not “illegal”, as the Islamabad police had acted upon the rules and procedures required in the case against him and had obtained his transit remand from a judicial magistrate under the relevant laws.

Earlier, Justice Sheikh had ordered the authorities to present Fawad before the court by 1:30pm, which was later extended to 2pm, but the authorities failed to produce him. The court again extended the time to 6pm but the PTI leader was not produced.

Fawad’s lawyer informed the court that the police team, which arrested his client, had already left for Islamabad instead of presenting him before the court.

The state counsel expressed his ignorance about Fawad’s exact location. Justice Tariq Sheikh allowed him half an hour to inquire about Fawad’s whereabouts, directing that the accused must be brought before the court even if he had been taken to Islamabad.

Later, the state counsel told the court that Fawad was not in the Punjab Police’s custody.

The judge ordered the IGPs of Punjab and Islamabad to appear before the court, saying the accused must be produced before him.

Upon resumption of the hearing later, Fawad’s lawyer asked the court to take notice of the violation of orders by the police.

IGP Punjab Usman Anwar appeared before the court and submitted that he was unable to contact the police teams despite many attempts, as the mobile signals were “weak”.

The IGP told the court that Fawad was not in the Punjab Police custody, but he was unable to ascertain whether he was in the custody of Islamabad Police.

Advocate General (AG) Punjab Jawad Yaqoob told the court that Islamabad Police had arrested Fawad under the case registered by the Kohsar Police Station and later obtained a transition remand from a local magistrate. He said the Islamabad Police represented themselves everywhere in the country.

He told the court that the administration and the Punjab Police had no “ill-intention” and the arrest was made according to the law.

Fawad’s counsel kept pleading that the administration had politically motivated intentions since all legal provisions were violated and all time limits given by the court were dishonored and the Islamabad police managed to take the accused despite clear court orders. He asked why a treason case was registered over just a speech, and whether the Election Commission had sought permission from the federal government to lodge the case.

Justice Tariq Sheikh told the petitioner’s counsel that the right forum was the Islamabad High Court since the case was not registered in the jurisdiction of Punjab. The counsel however pleaded that the incident on which the case was registered occurred in Lahore but the judge dismissed the petition, directing the counsel to approach the right forum.

Earlier, Fawad’s lawyer opposed the transit remand from the court of Magistrate Rana Mudassir, arguing that it was not needed since the distance between Islamabad and Lahore was of just four hours, and the police could present him in an Islamabad court. He alleged that the police sought the transit remand only to take the accused to some other place for political victimisation. He also asked the magistrate to remove Fawad’s handcuffs and said only one hand could be cuffed, if needed. He also told the court that a habeas corpus petition was pending with the LHC and no remand should be given until its pendency.

The magistrate approved the remand and asked the police to conduct a medical examination of the accused at the Services Hospital before shifting him to Islamabad.

Speaking to the media, Fawad said he was not afraid of the case but was “proud” of it. He said political leaders had been subjected to such victimisation and frivolous case registered like Nelson Mandela.

Condemning the manner of his arrest, Fawad said since he was a former federal minister and Supreme Court lawyer, he deserved to be treated respectfully and should have been called by the police or the court.