ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday restrained the Islamabad police from registering the FIRs against the leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) including former Prime Minister Imran Khan over Masjid-i-Nabwi incident.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah was hearing the petitions filed by former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, Shahbaz Gill and former deputy speaker National Assembly Qasim Khan Suri seeking to quash the FIRs registered in connection with the said incident.

According to the petitioner’s counsel Faisal Hussain, over a dozen FIRs have been registered across the country over Masjid-i-Nabwi incident.

At the outset, Fawad Hussain expressed confidence in the courts and said that in addition to the politician the institution should strictly act in accordance with the law for the sake of moving country ahead.

Deputy attorney general Syed Mohammad Tayyab told the court that complainants were private citizens and they lodged the FIRs because of their religious sentiments.

He further said a division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) has granted post arrest bail to one of the accused Rashid Shafiq and the matter is also sub judice before this forum.

Advocate Hussain argued that the Supreme Court in Sughra Bibi case had laid down the principle of registration of FIRs on same incident according to which all the complaints are clubbed and tried together.

Justice Minallah observed that under Article 7 of the constitution, the federal and provincial governments are the authority to approve registration of FIRs under blasphemy law adding that under no means such law be misused as it would create chaos and intolerance in the country.

Fawad Hussain submitted before the court that the incumbent government invoked the blasphemy law against the political opponent which is something strange in the national politics.

Justice Minallah, on the other hand, reminded him that misuse og religious card had been in practice in the recent past. He urged political leadership to devise strategy to end the misuse of religion in politics.

On court’s query, Director Cyber Crimes Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Humayun Bashir Tarrar told the court that the agency did not register any FIR in connection with Masjid-i-Nabwi incident.

Advocate Hussain, however, pointed out that the Islamabad Police in the report filed before the IHC stated that the investigation is underway on four complaints filed by private citizens.

Justice Minallah stopped the Islamabad police from registering the FIRs on the complaints.

He issued notice to the Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf for assistance in this matter.

Arshad Sharif case

Meanwhile, the same court also resumed hearing on the petition of Arshad Sharif filed against the alleged harassment by the law enforcement agencies.

The court on the earlier hearing summoned Bureau Chief of ARY TV Sabir Shakir.

However, the court was told that Shakir was presently in Saudi Arabia and could not return to Pakistan fearing his possible arrest.

FIA’s director Tarrar told the court that the investigation agency neither intends to arrest Sharif nor Sabir Shakir.

IHC Chief Justice suggested him to consult Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) to formulate Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the arrest of journalist for any wrongdoing.

Faisal Hussain, however, requested the court to issue a restraining order against the arrest of Shakir.

Justice Minallah on the other hand advised him to file a separate petition to seek such relief.

Further hearing in this matter has been adjourned till May 26.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2022



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