ISLAMABAD, Sept 14: Like a suspense scene from a James Bond film, Ali Musa Gilani, son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, was picked up by the Anti-Narcotics Force at the gates of the Supreme Court building, roughed up, frisked and then brought back by the ANF for his eventual release on bail by the court.
“This is all mala fide,” Musa shouted when ANF sleuths pounced on him.
Musa Gilani, a member of the National Assembly and an accused in the ephedrine scam case, came to appear before a three-judge bench headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk on a petition he had moved on Thursday for bail before arrest.
When he arrived in a white SUV, Advocate Chaudhry Faisal Hussain and another of his companions tried to shield him but they were pushed away by the ANF personnel. The sleuths grabbed Musa, handcuffed him, threw him into a vehicle and took him to the ANF regional office.
The manhandling was done despite a recent directive to the ANF by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry that it should continue investigation into the ephedrine scandal but without harassing anyone.
The bench waiting to take up the bail plea reacted sharply and ordered the ANF to produce Musa Gilani within 30 minutes.
Though totally gratuitous and in bad taste, the incident came as a blessing in disguise for Musa and he won public sympathy for the Gilani family and against the ANF.
Later talking to reporters, Musa said the ANF had again proved that it was not a trustworthy institution and did not even respect the highest judiciary.
“I was taken to the ANF regional office in Rawalpindi but was not tortured,” Musa told Dawn and showed a blood stain on his trousers which appeared to have been caused by bruises he suffered during the scuffle with ANF personnel.
Musa informed the court that he had appeared before the ANF seven to 12 times. The last time he had appeared before the Rawalpindi bench of Lahore High Court which rejected his bail petition.
He accused the ANF officers of pressurising him to cooperate with them by accepting whatever they said.
As advised by his counsel and friends, Musa pleaded before the court, he was under an impression that they (ANF) would not arrest him because the matter was now in the Supreme Court.
“It is indeed regretful that the petitioner who approached the Supreme Court for a relief was arrested at the entrance of the court with a view to preventing him from taking a legal course,” Justice Mulk observed while dictating an order after a brief hearing.
The court granted Musa a bail before arrest until Sept 25 on submission of two surety bonds of Rs500,000 each.
“This has never ever happened,” Justice Mulk said. But he kept open the matter of manhandling Musa by ANF Deputy Director Abid Zulfikar and said the court would deal with it at the time of hearing the appeal of Musa against the LHC decision.
The court asked Dr Khalid Ranjha, the counsel for Musa, and other lawyers to move applications, if they wanted, against what had happened on Friday.
The same bench has also granted a pre-arrest bail to Textiles Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin, a co-accused in the ephedrine scam.
The court took to task Abid Zulfikar for the manner he had arrested Musa and asked why he was waiting outside the Supreme Court premises.
He could only apologise without a cogent justification.
“Are you here for a morning walk or posted on a duty,” asked Justice Tariq Pervez, a member of the bench.
“I was near the Prime Minister’s Secretariat and had no idea where Musa was heading,” Mr Zulfikar said, but was admonished by Justice Mulk to at least speak truth.
The manhandling also invited public criticism, with Advocate Chaudhry Ramzan, a member of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), saying that approaching the Supreme Court for any cause was an established fundamental right and it could not be denied.