An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad on Monday indicted former senator Faisal Raza Abidi in a case pertaining to an interview in which he used "highly insulting and inappropriate language" against the chief justice.
Abidi pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him in court. ATC judge Shahrukh Arjumand heard the case.
The former senator was arrested from outside the Supreme Court in October, after a first information report (FIR) was filed against him in Islamabad's Secretariat police station, claiming that Abidi had used "highly insulting and inappropriate language" against the chief justice and the judiciary in an interview. It also alleged that the politician had "undermined the honour of the chief justice [and] incited the public".
The FIR, registered by the assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Shaukat Abbasi, was lodged under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). It also included Sections 500 (punishment for defamation), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 505 (II) (statements conducing to public mischief), 228 (intentional insult or interruption to public servant sitting in judicial proceeding), 121 (waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against the state) 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.
During the hearing today, Abidi's counsel claimed his client was not well and urged the court to shift him from jail to a hospital. The court ordered a medical checkup a second time and said that the decision to transfer Abidi from jail to a hospital will be taken after the submission of his medical reports. The ATC has rejected his appeal for post-arrest bail submitted on medical grounds once before.
The court summoned ASI Abbasi, police officer Shabbir Tanoli and citizen Raja Ayaz Abbasi to appear before court to stand witness in the next hearing, that will take place on Jan 3.
Abidi submits unconditional apology to SC
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court received a written apology from Abidi today, where he apologised for his "uncalled for conduct and remarks against the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan".
The former senator, in his apology, said he "has no logic, reason or argument to defend his uncalled for conduct" and "promised that in future [he] will not repeat the grievous mistake".
The top court had taken a suo motu notice over Abidi's alleged anti-judiciary remarks and a hearing of the case is scheduled for Dec 19.
Abidi, in his apology, said that he had sent an apology from Adiala jail, Rawalpindi — where he is currently detained — earlier as well but it had been returned. The former senator urged the Supreme Court to "graciously" accept his apology and pardon him in the suo motu case.
Cases against Abidi
Abidi is facing two other cases 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 Pakistan Penal Code (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.
The case was transferred by an ATC to a cyber crime court of the FIA.