Pakistan

SHC bars police from arresting Azam Swati in cases registered in Hyderabad region

  • Court issues directives on a plea filed by the senator’s son Usman Swati
Published December 13, 2022

The Sindh High Court’s Hyderabad registry on Tuesday barred the police from arresting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Azam Swati in cases lodged against him within the jurisdiction — which includes Mithi, Nawabshah, and Hyderabad.

The court’ issued these directives during a hearing on the plea filed by the senator’s son Usman Swati, seeking the charges against his father to be dismissed.

Swati was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on November 27 in a case related to controversial tweets against the military leadership.

This was the second time in less than two months that Swati was arrested over controversial tweets about senior military leaders.

The arrest came after the FIA booked him in a case registered under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 (Peca), which deals with offences against the dignity of a person.

A number of first information reports (FIRs) were also registered against him in Balochistan and Sindh for using “derogatory language” and “provoking the people against the army" after which he was handed over to Balochistan police.

The Balochistan High Court (BHC) ordered to quash all FIRs against Swati, before granting him bail last week. However, he was handed over to the Sindh police at the eleventh hour. He is currently in the custody of Qambar Shahdadkot police.

Earlier this week, the SHC’s Karachi registry had barred the police from arresting the senator in additional cases and had sought details of the cases already registered against him in the province.

During the hearing today, Swati’s counsel Noorul Haq Qureshi contended that the registration of multiple cases against the PTI leader was a violation of the Supreme Court’s orders.

Subsequently, the court sought details of the cases registered against Swati from the Sindh inspector-general of police, the Hyderabad deputy inspector-general, and the director of the Federal Investigation Agency.

It has further summoned responses from the respondents in the case by January 11.

Arrests over tweets

In October, Swati was arrested for posting tweets against state institutions but let go.

A few weeks later, the FIA arrested him again over a case related to a controversial tweet against senior military officials.

An FIR was registered by the FIA on the complaint of the state through Islamabad Cyber Crime Reporting Centre Technical Assistant Aneesur Rehman. Separate FIRs were registered against the senator in Balochistan and Sindh as well.

Following his arrest, PTI leader Dr Yasmin Rashid petitioned the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice regarding Swati's “political victimization”.

The petition asked for immediate notice to be taken on the “illegal arrest” of the senator and the “violation of the privacy of his home."

It claimed that Swati was tortured in front of his wife and kids, as well as during the custody of the FIA.

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