Capt Safdar gets pre-arrest bail in sedition case

Published March 11, 2021
PML-N leader retired Captain Mohammad Safdar was ordered to   produce two surety bonds of Rs100,000 each. — DawnNewsTV/File
PML-N leader retired Captain Mohammad Safdar was ordered to produce two surety bonds of Rs100,000 each. — DawnNewsTV/File

PESHAWAR: A single-member Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday granted an interim pre-arrest bail to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader retired Captain Mohammad Safdar until March 22 in a case registered against him here last month on the charges of committing sedition and inciting the personnel of the armed forces to mutiny.

Justice Lal Jan Khattak ordered Mr Safdar, who is the son-in-law of former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, to produce two surety bonds of Rs100,000 each.

He issued a notice to the police for response on the bail plea during the March 22 hearing.

High court seeks police’s reply to petition

Station house officer of the East Cantonment police station Imran Nawaz Alam had registered an FIR against the PML-N leader over the alleged sedition and incitement of the personnel of the armed forces to mutiny during a media talk on Feb 9 after attending the court proceedings on the high court premises.

The SHO claimed in the FIR that he had registered the case after getting the government’s written permission.

The PML-N leader was booked under Pakistan Penal Code Section 121 (waging war against Pakistan), Section 121-A (conspiracy to wage war against Pakistan), Section 124-A (sedition), 131 (Mutiny or seducing soldier for mutiny), Section 153 (provocation to cause riot) and Section 505 (statement to cause public mischief).

Mudassir Amir, lawyer for Mr Safdar, said his client’s media talk didn’t amount to sedition or other offences mentioned in the FIR.

The SHO claimed that Mr Safdar through his news conference had tried to defame Pakistan and its institutions and spread anarchy in institutions.

He added that the PML-N leader also tried to incite people against the government and institutions and create rifts among the personnel of the armed forces and their leadership.

BAIL EXTENDED: The high court extended the interim pre-arrest bail granted to PML-N leader retired Captain Mohammad Safdar until Mar 18 over an ongoing National Accountability Bureau inquiry about his assets.

A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Syed M Attique Shah directed the NAB, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, officials to inform it on the next hearing about whether a private counsel could be hired by the bureau against an accused and if the lawyer could be hired whether the legal requirements were fulfilled in this regard.

It also asked the NAB officials to explain how separate inquiries could be conducted into the accused’s assets in Peshawar and Lahore, simultaneously.

Lawyers Abdul Lateef Afridi and Mudassir Amir appeared for the petitioner, whereas deputy prosecutor general Azeem Dad, senior special prosecutor Mohammad Ali and private counsel Abdul Sattar Khan appeared on behalf of the NAB.

The petitioner’s lawyers said their client’s petition was disposed of by the high court in 2019 stopping the NAB from arresting suspects without warrants.

They said when his client’s arrest warrants were issued and the high court granted him an interim bail, the NAB began an identical inquiry in Lahore to frustrate the court’s order.

NAB DPG Azeem Dad claimed that the Peshawar NAB inquiry was against Mr Safdar only, while the Lahore one was against his family members, including Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

The bench asked NAB lawyer Sattar Khan if the hiring of a private counsel by the bureau didn’t violate the 2016 Supreme Court ruling against the hiring of private counsel in presence of government prosecutors.

The counsel said under Section 8 of the National Accountability Ordinance, the bureau could hire the services of a private lawyer.

The NAB’s prosecutor also submitted the copy of a letter of the NAB Peshawar regional office requesting the bureau’s chairman to hire a counsel in the case.

The bench directed him to produce that letter by Mar 18 and adjourned hearing.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2021

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