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IHC rejects Faisal Raza Abidi's request to dismiss cases against him

Updated October 11, 2018

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Faisal Raza Abidi arriving at the ATC court in handcuffs. — Photo courtesy author
Faisal Raza Abidi arriving at the ATC court in handcuffs. — Photo courtesy author

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday rejected former senator Faisal Raza Abidi's request to drop two cases against him for alleged defamation of judges and the Supreme Court (SC).

Three cases have been registered against Abidi for allegedly defaming the judiciary and using threatening language. On Oct 2, he received interim bail in two cases filed in Sept ─ which was set to expire today ─ and had requested on Oct 8 that the cases be dismissed.

Earlier this week, a third case was filed against him and he was taken into custody by police outside the Supreme Court, where he had attended the hearing of a suo motu case initiated against him for anti-judiciary remarks made by him in an interview that was aired on Channel 5.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani today heard Abidi's lawyer's request to dismiss the cases against him, with the court observing that the matter had "turned into a joke".

"Whoever pleases comes and slings mud at the judiciary," the court noted, adding that the chief justice had also been publicly threatened.

During the hearing, the court asked Abidi's lawyer, Sheikh Zaheer Hussain Shah, which TV channel the remarks were aired on, to which the lawyer responded saying that it was a channel called Naya Pakistan.

Shah argued that it was unconstitutional to have three FIRs registered against his client, to which Justice Kiyani responded that Abidi would be punished in one case, not three.

The court asked if Abidi had insulted the court to which his lawyer replied that the former Senator had not committed contempt of court, but had used "harsh words".

The court responded saying that the threatening attitude towards the judiciary was inappropriate.

In a separate hearing, an anti-terrorism court on Thursday cancelled the interim bail Abidi was granted in the earlier case registered against him at the Secretariat police station.

Abidi, who had earlier received interim bail, was produced in an anti-terrorism court (ATC) today. Judge Shahrukh Arjumand, after being informed that Abidi was already in police custody, cancelled his interim bail.

Subsequently, ATC Judge Kausar Abbas Zaidi handed Abidi over to police on two-day physical remand.

Cases against Abidi

On Sept 19, two cases were registered against Abidi, one at the Secretariat police and one with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for allegedly defaming judges and the Supreme Court.

The Secretariat police had booked him under section 7 of the ATA along with the PPC’s sections 228, 500, 505(ii), 506 (Criminal Intimidation) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) in response to a complaint lodged by SC public relations officer Shahid Hussain Kambyo on Sept 19.

The FIA booked him under section 10(a), 11 and 20 of the prevention of Pakistan Electronic Crime Act 2016 read with PPC’s sections 109 and 509.

Abidi had appeared in the IHC on Oct 1 and obtained protective bail for a day and was asked to appear before an ATC for bail.

The ATC granted him interim bail on Oct 2, which was expected to expire today.

A third case was also registered against the former senator on Oct 9 for defaming judges and the apex court and was booked under section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

He was also booked under sections 500 (punishment for defamation), 501(printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 505(ii) (statements conducive to public mischief), 228 (intentional insult or interruption to public servant sitting in judicial proceedings), 121 (waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging war against Pakistan) and 109 (punishment of abetment if act abetted in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Sources said the new case was registered in response to a complaint lodged by ASI Shoukat Mehmood Abbasi, stationed at the same station.

The FIR says the ASI watched a video on social media in which a female anchorperson was interviewing Abidi and in which he is alleged to have defamed judges and SC.

The police claim the FIR was registered on Oct 9, a day before the former senator was arrested. However, it seems it was registered on Oct 10, the same day as the arrest and was backdated.

The registration of the case against the former senator is not mentioned in the crime diary issued by the police on Wednesday. A crime diary mentions brief information of the FIRs registered by the police the previous day.

Police spokesperson Mohammad Naseem confirmed that the crime diary issued was the complete one for Oct 9 and said the FIR against Abidi was registered late, at 10:35 pm which is why it did not make it to the crime diary.

The capital police have registered two separate FIRs at the same police station for the same crime.

During a preliminary interrogation, the senator is reported to have said that the cases referred to the same interview. However, Superintendent of Police City Zone Amir Niazi and Deputy Superintendent of Police Azhar Shah when contacted claimed they were different interviews which is why two cases were registered.

When asked, the DSP Legal said two cases cannot be registered for a single crime.

A police officer said there were two parts to the interview which is why two separate cases were registered.

A programme titled Subah Subah Naya Pakistan was aired by web channel Naya Pakistan on July 2, which was hosted by anchorperson Shanza Sheikh Rahman.

The guest speaker on the show was Faisal Raza Abidi.

During the course of his appearance on the show, the accused, with criminal intent and ulterior motives and without any lawful justification used sarcastic, derogatory, disrespectful and defamatory language against the chief justice etc. which the FIR filed with the FIA said was tantamount to creating a sense of fear, panic and insecurity among the government, general public and society.