ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to defer the filing of a complaint against an Islamabad additional district and sessions judge for allegedly giving a biased judgement in a matter relating to the detention of media personality Mohsin Jamil Baig on the complaint of federal Communications Minister Murad Saeed.

Mr Baig was arrested earlier this week in a raid conducted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on a complaint filed by Mr Saeed.

The judge declared the raid on Mr Baig’s house “illegal” and asked Islamabad’s inspector general of police to take action against the station house officer of Margalla police station, adding that an FIR should be lodged if any application was submitted by a family member of Mr Baig.

A senior government official privy to developments confirmed that filing of the complaint against the judge had been deferred.

He said that since the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had taken cognisance of the cases registered against Mr Baig and the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) had also extended his physical remand, the government would prefer to see the outcome of those proceedings.

The Islamabad Bar Association (IBA), meanwhile, issued a statement on Friday, asking the authorities to refrain from taking action against the judge.

It stated that the judge had authored the order in accordance with the law. “Is the judge supposed to pass orders according to the whims of the government?”

During the hearing, the IHC chief justice directed the deputy commissioner of Islamabad to visit the lock-up to ascertain the veracity of allegations of torture of Mr Baig. Chief Justice Athar Minallah also sought a report from the inspector general of Islamabad in this regard.

Mr Baig’s wife and the Journalists Defence Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council had challenged the FIRs registered by the Cyber Crimes Wing and the Margalla police station under sections of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) and Anti-Terrorism Act, respectively.

During the hearing, Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, the counsel for Mr Baig’s spouse, contended that the petitioner had been denied access to a lawyer of choice. He also alleged that the petitioner’s husband was manhandled and physically harmed while he was in custody of the Margalla police station.

“It is noted that no accused, regardless of the gravity of the alleged offence, can be treated otherwise than in accordance with law, let alone being subjected to physical harm. Arrest of an accused in a criminal case merely deprives the latter from enjoying the right to freedom of movement guaranteed under Article 15 of the Constitution,” the order said.

Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned till Feb 21.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2022

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