ISLAMABAD: A local court on Friday turned down a police request to extend the physical remand of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and party chairman Imran Khan’s chief of staff, Dr Shahbaz Gill, and sent him to jail on judicial remand.
The police produced Gill, who was arrested by the police on August 9 at Bani Gala Chowk on charges of “sedition” and “inciting the public against the state institutions”, before judicial magistrate Umber Bashir, following the expiry of his two days’ physical remand, amid tight security arrangements and requested the court to extend his physical remand to conduct further investigation from him.
The court after hearing arguments of the prosecution and the defence reserved its judgment for some time. Later, while announcing its judgment it rejected the police request and sent Gill to jail.
During the hearing, Gill’s handcuffs were removed following the request of his legal team and he was allowed to meet his lawyers.
At the start of the hearing, Investigating Officer (IO) Tallat Mahmood submitted an application before seeking the extension in physical remand of Gill for 12 days to conduct further investigation of him. The IO told the court that the accused has so far not handed over his key mobile phone to the police.
The investigation team has written letters to the PEMRA regarding the case and its reply is still awaited, he further said, adding that further remand is necessary as the accused is not cooperating with the police.
According to the application moved by the IO as per the court’s order during the course of the investigation, the accused has made the disclosure about the commission of the offence and further disclosed that the data regarding the commission of the offence is in his mobile phone but he is intentionally causing hindrance in the investigation.
The application submitted by the IO says that the transcript of the interview has already been obtained from the PEMRA and sent to the FIA Cyber Crime Wing for voice matching and a positive report has been received but further physical remand is necessary for the arrest of the co-accused and to recover the mobile phone used by the accused person. The IO has also submitted in his application that the accused is continuously telling lies hence, physical remand may be granted for his polygraph test.
During the hearing, Gill came to the rostrum and told the court that the police have subjected him to severe torture during physical remand and he also took off his shirt and showed signs of torture on his back to the judge. The police have so far not conducted his medical and produced a fake medical report before the court, he further said.
To this, the judge said that it means that the report is based on assumptions.
Regarding handing over of his mobile phone, Gill said that he had given the interview to a TV channel on August 8, on 9th Muharram at around 4pm when the mobile phone network was not working and he have given the interview through a landline number. He said that he did not use his mobile phone during the interview.
He further said that he cannot even think of making such kind of statement about the Pakistan Army. He said that he is a professor and not a criminal. The police have not kept him at Kohsar police station and kept him at unknown locations, he said.
Gill said that during interrogation he was questioned again and again for how many times he met with Lt General Faiz Hameed, the Corps Commander Bahawalpur. He further said that he was also questioned about the meal of the former prime minister, Imran Khan. He further said that he has been also questioned by the investigators that whether Imran Khan asked him for making such a statement. He requested the court to reject the police application that sought an extension in his physical remand.
The order further stated that Islamabad Advocate General Jahangir Jadoon and Assistant Director Public Prosecutor Naveed Akhtar also argued that although, the prosecution had made substantial progress in the investigation during the two days of Gill’s physical remand, it had not been able to recover the PTI leader’s mobile phone, laptop, and other digital devices due to the accused’s non-cooperation.
They contended that the recovery of the said devices was necessary for a just and fair investigation.
According to the court’s order, Jadoon went on to allege that Gill had attended a special meeting before joining the TV program and the complete transcript of the interview was sent to his mobile phone via Whatsapp. Hence, the recovery of Gill’s mobile phone was necessary to reach other suspects and designers of the entire conspiracy, he added.
During the course of Friday proceedings, the transcript of Gill’s remarks was read out in the court, with Jadoon maintaining that comments were aimed at giving rise to mutiny in the ranks of the armed forces.
He also alleged that Gill’s driver, who was with him at the time of his arrest and was said to be in possession of his mobile phone, was in hiding at Bani Gala. He said that the accused might be shifted to Karachi as many things regarding the case are linked to Karachi.
He further told the court that this is a high-profile accused; therefore, it was necessary to conduct his polygraph test. He requested the court to extend the accused’s physical remand for five days to conduct his polygraph test from the Punjab Forensic lab.
Faisal Chaudhry, while objecting to the police request, said that the investigation of the case had been completed and the extension was only being sought for the purposes of torture upon the accused and to get a statement of their choice. He said that the marks of torture are not on Gill’s clothes but on his back. He alleged that fake news has been released to the media that Gill has become an approver.
Gill’s lawyer said that there is no need for physical remand for a polygraph test, they can do it anyway. The FIA is in their hands. They can put anyone’s name.
According to the court order, the lawyers argued that the matter was a case of political victimisation and the prosecution is only throwing a wider net, which was evident by the registration of an FIR against Gill’s driver and his family members.
The court order further says that the above discussion leads to a safe conclusion that no strong and exceptional grounds exist for grant of further physical remand of the accused consequently, the request made by the IO stands dismissed. The accused be sent to judicial custody and be produced again August 26 before it.
The PTI leaders including Fawad Chaudhry, Ali Awan, Zulfi Bukhari, and others also attended the proceedings. A large number of the PTI workers gathered outside the court and they chanted slogans in favour of Gill and against the government.
Later, the police filed a review petition before additional session judge Muhammad Adnan Khan seeking suspension of the order of the judicial magistrate, in which, it rejected the police’s request to extend Gill’s physical remand.
During the hearing, the additional session judge first sought arguments from the prosecution that whether the application is maintainable or not. The judge observed that if the court is satisfied with the arguments given by the prosecution, the hearing will be held again today (Saturday), if they are not satisfied with the arguments, then the court will announce its decision.
After hearing the arguments of the prosecution, the prosecution reserved its judgment.
Later, while announcing the judgment, the court rejected the review petition against turning down the request for an extension of Gill’s remand.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022