Shahbaz Gill seeks post-arrest bail from Islamabad court in sedition casePakistan
PTI leader Shahbaz Gill, who has been arrested on charges of sedition and inciting mutiny in the army, approached a sessions court in Islamabad on Thursday for post-arrest bail till the disposal of the case.
Gill was arrested on August 9 after he made controversial remarks allegedly about the army during an ARY News bulletin and has been detained since, amid claims of him being subjected to torture and sexual abuse during custody.
Meanwhile, police have denied these allegations and sought extensions in his remand multiple times, maintaining that it was required to complete the case’s investigation.
Yesterday, an Islamabad district and sessions rejected a police request for another extension of seven days in Gill’s physical remand, following which his lawyer, Faisal Chaudhry, announced that they would be filing an application for the PTI leader’s bail now.
Subsequently, he filed a bail petition in a sessions court on his client’s behalf today.
The petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, contended that the first information report (FIR) registered against Gill was “concocted, cryptic and baseless”.
It said the FIR was “a pack of lies and it is registered on the behalf of the incumbent government to settle to political score with the applicant party PTI and its leadership including Imran Khan”.
The petition further said the entire action was “patently illegal and politically motivated” and amounted to a colourable exercise of power by the state.
It said Gill hailed from a “noble family” and was also a “respectable citizen”. The plea said the PTI leader was incarcerated despite the completion of the probe.
“It is respectfully prayed that the petitioner may graciously be admitted to post-arrest bail, till the final disposal of the case,” the plea reads.
Gill was taken into custody 9 under Sections 34 (common intention), 109 (abetment), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), 121 (waging war against state), 124-A (sedition), 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempt to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 153 (provoking to cause riot), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
Later, Dawn reported that Section 201 of the PPC — causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information to screen offender — was added to the FIR.
A day after his arrest, an Islamabad district and sessions court had granted police a two-day physical remand of the PTI leader.
Two days later, police had sought an extension in the remand but the court had turned down the request and sent Gill on a judicial remand instead.
Police had then filed a review petition against the rejection of their application the same day. However, this appeal was also rejected and subsequently, Islamabad Advocate General Jahangir Khan Jadoon moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for Gill’s physical remand.
On August 16, the IHC had referred the matter back to the trial court and later that day, a judicial magistrate had approved Gill’s two-day physical remand in police custody.
However, it was only two hours after the court’s ruling that Islamabad police were able to take Gill’s custody.
According to a Dawn report, in a bid to thwart Gill’s handover to capital police, arrangements were made to move the PTI leader to Rawalpindi District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital after he complained of breathing trouble, even though jail authorities were convinced that they had the facilities to treat him.
When he was eventually handed over to Islamabad police late night that day, the PTI leader was shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences owing to his health complaints.
The development led to a delay in the completion of Gill’s physical remand, with the trial court concluding on Friday last week that the remand time began at 7:15am that day, when the PTI leader was handed over to police by hospital authorities, and not on Wednesday.
At the time, the court had suspended the handing over of Gill to police for the completion of his two-day physical remand and directed Islamabad police to shift him to the Pims for a medical examination on complaints of his ill health.
When Gill was again produced before the court on Monday, it had ruled: “The time for physical remand would start when the custody of accused would be given to investigation officer for interrogation and recovery and by no stretch of the imagination the time spent by accused in hospital can be considered as a time of physical remand.”
It had fixed the time of commencement for the 48 hours at 1pm on Monday and ordered Gill to be produced in court on Wednesday (today) at, or before, 1pm.
Yesterday, the IHC upheld the additional district and sessions judge’s order to hand over Gill’s custody to Islamabad police, with Acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq observing that the evidence placed before the additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) led to the conclusion that another two-day police remand was required.
Subsequently, the IHC ruled that “no interference was required in the order of the revisional court [ADSJ]”.
Authorities have maintained that the ongoing investigation against Gill and collection of evidence cannot be completed without an extension of his remand in police custody.
Meanwhile, PTI leaders have alleged that Gill has been subjected to torture and abuse in police custody and contended the demand for Gill’s physical remand based on these claims.
On Tuesday, Gill also accused police of physically and mentally torturing him and orchestrating a “fake medical checkup” when his “body was full of bruises”. He has also alleged that he was stripped and thrown into a room where he was beaten and kicked for three nights after his arrest on August 9.
He levelled these accusations in front of a committee formed by the Islamabad police chief upon the IHC’s directives to probe his claims of torture during the custody.
Gill claimed no doctor at Pims checked him.
In a related development, another case has been registered against Gill at the Secretariat police station after two weapons were recovered from his room at the Parliament Lodges.
On August 9, the same day when Gill was arrested, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had issued a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing comments from Gill, that it said were “highly hateful and seditious” remarks tantamount to “incite armed forces towards revolt”.
The notice went on to say that Gill was invited via a telephonic call for his comments and during his talk with the channel, Gill had alleged that the government was trying to provoke the lower and middle tier of the army against the PTI, saying the families of such “rank and file” support Imran Khan and his party “which is fuelling rage within the government”.
He had also alleged that the “strategic media cell” of the ruling PML-N was spreading false information and fake news to create divisions between PTI chief Imran Khan and the armed forces.
Gill had said the government leaders, including Javed Latif, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq, had lambasted the army in the past “and they were at the government positions now”.
“The statement made by the guest on ARY News is a violation of Article 19 of the Constitution as well as Pemra laws. Airing of such content on your news channel shows either weak editorial control on the content or the licensee is intentionally indulged in providing its platform to such individuals who intend to spread malice and hatred against state institutions for their vested interests,” the watchdog stated.
“Dr Gill tried to malign the federal government, claiming the government functionaries are spearheading a campaign through social media cell for propagating anti-army narrative,” the authority said.