FIA given custody of Rawalpindi cleric for seven days

Updated Jul 01 2020

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ATC has handed over Agha Iftikharuddin Mirza to FIA for hurling threats and abuses at Justice Qazi Faez Isa and other judges of the Supreme Court. — AFP/File
ATC has handed over Agha Iftikharuddin Mirza to FIA for hurling threats and abuses at Justice Qazi Faez Isa and other judges of the Supreme Court. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Tuesday handed over the custody of Rawalpindi-based cleric Agha Iftikharuddin Mirza to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for seven days for hurling threats and abuses at Justice Qazi Faez Isa and other judges of the Supreme Court in a video lecture that went viral on social media.

In a related development, Mirza filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, tendering unconditional apology and claiming that in a “private meeting” he “unintentionally” utte­r­ed some words against honourable judges. He also claimed that the video was neither recorded nor made viral on social media with his consent.

Last week, the Chief Justice of Pakistan had taken suo motu notice of the video containing derogatory, contemptuous and scandalous language against the judiciary, specifically Justice Isa.

On Tuesday, the FIA produced Mirza before ATC Judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan and sought his custody on physical remand for interrogating him to reach his accomplices.

Iftikharuddin tells SC video recorded without his consent

The court approved the physical remand for seven days with a directive for the investigation agency to get him medically examined.

Mriza is facing proceedings under the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016, Section 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, as well as Section 500 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Section 6 of the ATA deals with the definition of terrorism by explaining that any threat if designed to coerce and intimidate or overawe the government or the public or a section of the public or community or any threat for the purpose of advancing a religious, sectarian or ethnic cause, intimidating and terrorising the public, social sectors, media persons, business community or attacking the civilians, including damaging property by ransacking, looting, arson or by any other means, government officials, installations, security forces or law enforcement agencies, is also an act of terrorism.

Section 500 of the PPC suggests punishment that may extend to two years with fine for defamation.

The affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court by Mirza stated: “In a private meeting during conversation [he] unintentionally uttered some words against judiciary, honourable judges. [He] has lots of regrets, and feels sorry for those words; he seeks unconditional apology and surrenders himself at mercy of the honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan.”

While taking suo motu notice of the contemptuous video clip, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed had regretted the state of affairs.

However, the attorney general assured the apex court that whatever had happened was not acceptable to the government.

Published in Dawn, July 1st, 2020