KARACHI: An antiterrorism court reserved on Saturday its order on applications moved by several leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement seeking confirmation of interim bail in nearly two dozen cases pertaining to listening to an alleged hate speech by party founder Altaf Hussain.
The leaders — Dr Farooq Sattar, Amir Khan, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Rauf Siddiqui, Rashid Godil, Khawaja Izharul Hasan, Gul Faraz Khattak, Salman Mujahid, Abdul Qadir Khanzada, Khushbakht Shujaat, Shahid Pasha, Qamar Mansoor — along with nearly 200 party workers have been booked in 35 identical cases for allegedly listening to an incendiary speech of the London-based founder on Aug 22, 2016 outside the Karachi Press Club that triggered a violent protest, arson attacks and ransacking of media houses.
On Saturday, several leaders appeared in court seeking confirmation of interim pre-arrest bail granted to them in July.
MQM-London’s Ashraf Noor, who allegedly went missing, also appeared in court.
To a court query, Mr Noor submitted that some unknown armed men had whisked him away in a private vehicle.
Advocate Shaukat Hayat, the counsel for Dr Sattar and Mr Siddiqui, moved two applications seeking amalgamation of 24 identical FIRs pertaining to the same offence and confirmation of the interim pre-arrest bail granted to them in these cases.
The counsel argued that his clients were granted interim pre-arrest bail in two dozen identical cases which pertained to one incident which was not sustainable in the eyes of the law, as more than one FIR could not be lodged in respect of one offence.
He submitted that in all cases it was alleged that the applicants were listening to the alleged provocative speech of the then MQM chief. He pleaded to club all the cases together, saying even one charge could not be framed again and again in several cases of identical nature.
In the second plea, the counsel maintained that his clients were granted interim bail in July and they were regularly appearing in court and there was no likelihood of their absconding. He pleaded to the court to confirm their interim bail.
Other defence counsel also adopted his arguments. The ATC-I reserved its order on the matter for Sept 29.
Meanwhile, another ATC on Saturday recorded statements of six prosecution witnesses in a case pertaining to the Baldia factory fire in which over 250 workers perished.
The ATC-VI judge, who conducted the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, recorded statements of the witnesses — all relatives of the fire victims — who burst into tears and became emotional while recalling the horrifying events on the fateful day.
The court fixed Sept 14 as the next date of hearing.
Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2018