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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court directed Secretary Ministry of Interior and others to ensure that neither any harassment is caused to former information minister Fawad Chaudhry nor coercive adverse measures are taken against him till May 9, 2022.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday heard a petition of Fawad Chaudhry against registration of a case due to the incident which had taken place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday, Faisalabad police had registered a case under blasphemy laws against the PTI chairman and over 150 others, including the petitioner and some stalwarts of the party, in the wake of the Masjid-e-Nabwi incident.

The FIR was registered under sections of the Pakistan Penal Code: 295 (harming or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult a religion), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 296 (disturbing religious assembly) and 109 (abetment).

Fawad Ahmed has invoked the constitutional jurisdiction of the Court under Article 199 of the Constitution and cited Secretary Ministry of Interior, Federal Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah, Inspector Generals of Police of Islamabad, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan and Director General Federal Investigation Agency as respondents.

The former information minister asserted that due to ‘political victimization’ multiple criminal cases have been registered at the behest of the federal government merely to harass and intimidate him and other leaders/ workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The Court expected that matter will be brought to the attention of the worthy Speaker of the National Assembly, who is expected to ensure that liberty of members of the Parliament is not curtailed by the respondents without his approval nor that they are harassed in any manner due to the incident which had taken place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Dispensation sought for is allowed, subject to all just and legal exceptions. Application (CMA) stands disposed of.

Advocate Faisal Fareed, representing the petitioner, argued that the criminal cases have also been registered within the jurisdiction of this Court relating to the incident which had taken place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

He further contended that the petitioner and other leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf are being illegally harassed. In response to a query bench, the counsel informed that the petitioner had tendered his resignation as member of the National Assembly of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) but so far the Election Commission has not issued a notification.

The chief justice directed the IHC office to issue notices to the respondents for filing report and para-wise comments.

The office is also directed to send copies of this order to the respondents, as well as, the Secretary, National Assembly through special messenger.

The case is adjourned until 09-05-2022.

Separately, the IHC restrained police from arresting Shahbaz Gill upon his return to Pakistan. The court issued the directives while hearing a writ petition filed by the politician seeking protective bail in the same case.

The petition stated that Gill had been falsely implicated in several FIRs to “harass, pressurise, blackmail and humiliate”.

The petition also stated that Gill was ready to appear before the court to prove his innocence but was prevented from doing so as the current government was bent upon arresting him at any cost.

When the IHC CJ took up the petition, Gill’s lawyer Advocate Faisal Chaudhry told the court that his client was in the US when the incident occurred. When Justice Minallah asked where Gill was, Chaudhry replied that the PTI leader had left for the US on April 28 and would return on May 4.

The lawyer further informed the court that 11 different cases had been registered against Gill and others in several cities, including Faisalabad, Attock, Jhelum, Burewala, Karachi, Jhang and Islamabad. “The petitioners are being targeted for political revenge,” he argued.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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