Islamabad court reserves verdict on Shahbaz Gill’s judicial remand in sedition case

An Islamabad district and sessions court on Wednesday reserved its verdict on a review plea seeking the judicial remand of PTI senior leader Shahbaz Gill in a sedition case filed against him, after the completion of arguments by all parties.

The sessions judge Zeba Chaudhry had taken up the case for rehearing this morning following the orders of the Islamabad High Court over the government’s plea challenging the dismissal of Gill’s physical remand by the duty magistrate.

Lawyers Salman Safdar and Faisal Chaudhry representing Gill — who has been behind the bars since last Tuesday (August 9) — appeared in court.
At the outset of the hearing, Special Prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi informed the court that the judicial magistrate remanded Gill into police custody for two days but the investigation officer requested for an extension in the remand.

He said that the duty magistrate should have considered all aspects of the matter but he rejected the request.

“How did he [magistrate] take Gill’s statement for the final statement?” he asked.

Abbasi maintained that a remand of at least 10 days is granted in ordinary cases while this is a case of criminal conspiracy.

He contended that the accused PTI leader is telling lies again and again and, therefore, further interrogation and a polygraph test is required.

The special prosecutor further stated that Gill has already confessed that his driver has one of his mobile phones.

“The IO clearly wrote in the plea that it’s not just about the recovery [of the phone] but there are other aspects that need to be investigated,” he said.
After the completion of the arguments by special prosecutor, Gill’s lawyer Salman Safdar gave arguments. He maintained that the case against Gill is based on malafide intent and political revenge because he mentioned the names of nine PML-N leaders including Maryam Nawaz, Ayaz Sadiq and others.

He complained that some aspects of the basis of seeking remand have been kept secret while the case record hasn’t been provided to the defence.

He said that it needs to be ascertained why the police want Gill to be remanded.

“The case has been based on the selection of words and speech […] and the police have the speech.”

He also raised objection over the admissibility of the case, saying that the complainant is a magistrate who filed the case on behalf of the bureaucracy and army but a treason case cannot be filed without the permission of the federal government.

Moreover, he said that the sections imposed in the case are of capital punishment and life imprisonment, asking “if these sections are applicable on such a speech.”
“Gill made some wrong statements but things could be wrong but they don’t come under treason or criminal conspiracy,” he said.

Gill’s lawyer also contended that Gill had been remanded for three days and the request wasn’t turned down immediately. He said that the IO failed to complete the investigation in three days while the forensic department had sent the reports within 24 hours.
Senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, while talking to the media outside the court during the hearing, demanded a judicial inquiry into the alleged torture of Gill under police custody.

He opposed sending Gill into police custody for “more torture”, saying that he hopes the court will not accept the request of remand.

“Gill was abducted and tortured and PTI leaders were not allowed to meet him in Adiala jail,” the politician said.

He said that people in Pakistan are yearning for basic freedom.

Fawad further stated that linking the social media campaigns to PTI is wrong.
Gill was arrested last Tuesday afternoon from Banigala Chowk in the capital a day after making controversial remarks on a private TV channel. He was subsequently booked on charges of sedition and inciting members of state institutions against the Pakistan Army.

A treason case was registered against him at the Kohsar Police Station under several sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, including 124-A (sedition), 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempting to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot if rioting be committed; if not committed), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups, etc), and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), among others.

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