Faisal Raza Abidi sent to jail on 14-day judicial remand in defamation case

Published October 13, 2018
Faisal Raza Abidi is under custody for using "highly insulting and inappropriate language" against the chief justice. — Photo/File
Faisal Raza Abidi is under custody for using "highly insulting and inappropriate language" against the chief justice. — Photo/File

An Islamabad district and sessions court has sent former senator Faisal Raza Abidi to jail on 14-day judicial remand, DawnNewsTV reported on Saturday.

Capital city police had produced Abidi before the court after his two-day physical remand expired today. He had been arrested outside the Supreme Court (SC) on Oct 10 when he was leaving the building after attending the hearing of another case against him.

Officials of the Secretariat police station were responsible for the arrest. It was made on a first information report (FIR) against the former senator for using "highly insulting and inappropriate language" against the chief justice.

During today's hearing in the sessions court, the judge questioned the police's "discriminatory behaviour" in arresting "a man who was coming out from the SC after a hearing".

"I'm surprised at how 'responsible' the Islamabad police have become," he said.

"Did the Supreme Court's Public Relations Officer send you a letter regarding the case in which he (Abidi) was arrested?" Justice Sohail Nasir asked.

He was told that the case had been registered on the complaint of an assistant sub-inspector.

Judge Nasir then asked if the police had tried to arrest Abidi in other cases registered against him in the same police station earlier. The police prosecutor said that a team had been sent to Karachi but Abidi could not be arrested.

The judge clarified that he was not defending an individual but emphasising the importance of equal treatment.

He pointed out that Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri were once declared proclaimed offenders and yet they were giving speeches in public.

He also raised questions over the addition of Section 7 of the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997 in the FIR lodged against Abidi.

"7-ATA is treated like a joke, you (police) charge anyone you want [under the section]," the judge remarked.

Defamation of judiciary

The FIR was lodged against Abidi in the Secretariat police station earlier this week for using "highly insulting and inappropriate language" against the chief justice and the judiciary in an interview. It also accuses him of "undermining the honour of the chief justice [and] inciting the public".

The FIR — registered under Section 7 of the ATA and includes different sections of the Pakistan Penal Code — does not specify the programme it is referring to.

This is the third case that has been registered against Abidi for defamation of judiciary and usage of threatening language.

The former senator first came under heat after a video of his interview went viral on social media, in which his language was deemed abusive, contemptuous and threatening in an FIR that was registered earlier. He was also accused of levelling allegations against government institutions which have been created via the Constitution. He also levelled accusations against individuals holding the highest constitutional posts, the FIR said.

The case was registered with the Secretariat police under different sections of the PPC and Section 7 of ATA in response to a complaint lodged by Shahid Hussain Kambyo, the public relations officer of the SC.

Another case was registered against Abidi with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 for his remarks in another programme titled Subah Subah Naya Pakistan aired on web channel Naya Pakistan on July 2.

It says that 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 it says is tantamount to creating a sense of fear, panic and insecurity among the government, general public and society.

It says that Abidi is prima facie guilty of offences punishable under sections 10(a), 11 and 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016 read with sections 109 and 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

An FIA official said the case will be registered by the FIA’s cybercrime wing as well, which was registered under the prevention of the Electronic Crimes Act and the PPC.

The police are holding a separate investigation of the case.

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