LAHORE, Aug 31: A judicial magistrate of Model Town Courts on Saturday granted post-arrest bails to former federal minister and MNA Liaqat Abbas Bhatti and his driver for allegedly keeping a 14-year-old housemaid, her brother and a sister in illegal detention, besides chaining and subjecting them to torture.

Johar Town police Investigation Officer Imtiaz Ahmad Wahla produced the accused before Civil Judge (judicial magistrate) Aniq Anwer Chaudhry and sought their judicial remand. He said as no further recovery was to be made from the accused, therefore there was no need of their physical remand.

The magistrate allowed the request and the counsel for the accused filed bail petitions pleading the allegations leveled against his clients were bailable. Moreover, he said the case was instituted to ‘victimise’ Mr Bhatti, as he was former lawmaker.

The magistrate accepted the petitions and released both accused on bail subject to furnishing bail bonds of Rs50,000 each.

Bhatti submitted the bail bonds immediately and was released while his driver Wajid was sent to jail due to late submission of the same. He was released from jail later in the day.

IO Wahla told Dawn that police requested for judicial remand as they had already produced recovered chain, rope and the victims as evidence in the court.

He said as the next step the investigation officer would submit challan within 14 days in the court before the start of trial.

He said the three victims- Shahida, Irfan and Zubaida - were still admitted to the Jinnah Hospital for their treatment.

He said Sections 337-F (i), 337-L (2) and 337-A (i) of the Pakistan Penal Code were added to the case earlier registered under Sections 354, 342 and 109 of the PPC after medical examination of the victims. The IO said all sections of the FIR were bailable, claiming no section involving non-bailable offence could be invoked in the case.

Sadar SP (Investigation) Jahanzeb Khan said police inserted all related sections in the FIR without passing any benefit to the accused considering his status. He said the police would submit challan on merit.

Regarding allegations leveled by the maid, Shahida, that she and her siblings were illegally confined by Mr Bhatti as her father had obtained Rs400,000 loan from the former minister and that they were subjected to torture for demanding enhanced salary, the SP said police investigation was underway to ascertain the accusations, including those pertaining to ‘bonded labour’.

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