Shahbaz Gill remanded to police custody for 48 hours, court rules

Published August 17, 2022
PTI leader Shahbaz Gill speaks to the media outside a local court in Islamabad on Aug 12. — DawnNewsTV
PTI leader Shahbaz Gill speaks to the media outside a local court in Islamabad on Aug 12. — DawnNewsTV

An Islamabad district and sessions court on Wednesday approved a two-day physical remand of PTI leader Shahbaz Gill at the request of the capital police.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry announced a verdict that was reserved earlier today.

"Muhammad Shahbaz Shabbir Gill is given in the custody of the investigating officer for the purpose of investigation for 48 hours," the court order reads.

The judge also directed the investigation officer to get the respondent medically examined and submit a report to the court.

The PTI has alleged that Gill was tortured in police custody previously and remains in danger of being subjected to further torture if he is handed back to the Islamabad police.

Gill was arrested by the Islamabad police on August 9, soon after he made controversial remarks on television that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) deemed were "highly hateful and seditious".

The court's remanding of Gill to Islamabad police custody comes less than a week after a court rejected a police request to extend Gill's two-day physical remand and an additional district and sessions judge dismissed a plea requesting a review of the district court's order.

A plea challenging these orders was filed by Islamabad Advocate General Jahangir Khan Jadoon in the Islamabad High Court on Saturday last week.

The authorities had maintained in the plea that the physical remand of Gill — who was in judicial custody on charges of sedition and inciting mutiny in the armed forces following his controversial remarks on ARY News — is important for the completion of the case's investigation.

The IHC on Tuesday referred a plea seeking Gill's physical remand to the sessions court for the hearing.

Today's hearing

Earlier in the day, the district and sessions court in Islamabad took up the plea for Gill's remand as the prosecution and defence lawyer furnished arguments.

Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi told the court that the detained party leader was "repeatedly telling lies" and that a polygraph test had to be conducted.

He said the investigators also needed the suspect's mobile phone records which could potentially lead to more evidence.

"We are yet to investigate the person who allegedly approved the script of the suspect (Gill), which [led him to utter seditious remarks]."

The prosecutor also questioned how a judicial magistrate, who refused Gill's physical remand, accepted the suspect's statement as "conclusive".

He also rejected the claim by the PTI, saying that "a justification of suspension of mobile network signals due to Ashura is also incorrect".

Abbasi urged the court to allow the physical remand of Gill to process the investigation.

Defending his client, Gill's lawyer Salman Safdar sought copies of the questions that the PTI leader faced during interrogation.

"The public's response to determine whether Gill's remarks were seditious should have been awaited before a case was filed against him," the lawyer argued.

He criticised the prosecution's argument for what he said was its emphasis on Gill's remarks being made at someone's behest.

"Some of the things could be wrong but they do not fall under sedition, conspiracy or crime," Gill's lawyer contended.

He insisted that a person who had been sent on judicial remand could not be sent back on physical remand again.

Nature of 'torture'

"Shahbaz Gill said his private parts came under torture," his lawyer told the court, adding: "I also asked him whether he was being tortured by the police or someone else."

To which, the lawyer said, Gill told him that he was blindfolded when subjected to the alleged beating.

His counsel also quoted Gill as saying the investigators were asking whether "Imran Khan is an alcoholic".

Safdar said his client would cooperate with authorities even if he was granted bail.

Reports of instructions to Punjab officials to not hand over Gill

Later in the day, the PML-N, citing media reports, claimed the Punjab government was refusing to hand over Gill's custody to the Islamabad police despite court orders.

"Imran Khan who lectures the nation about the law being equal for everyone is pressurising the health secretary to create a fake health emergency."

The PTI responded with a swift rebuttal, terming the reports of instructions to Punjab's additional chief secretary and inspector general of police as a "shameful attempt to spread lies and rumours".

It said the reports going around were nothing more than mischief from "[PML-N's] strategic media cell and channels devoid of journalistic ethics and values".

'Absolutely unacceptable'

After the ruling, PTI Chairman Imran Khan expressed concern over the party leader's physical remand, saying "this is absolutely unacceptable."

"He is in a fragile state of mental and physical health because of the torture inflicted on him when he was abducted, taken to undisclosed location and then again at the police station. This is part of conspiracy," he wrote in a tweet.

Imran said his party will take all legal and political action "to counter not only this torture being inflicted upon Shahbaz Gill but also any such extra-constitutional and extra-legal actions being devised against us".

PTI to file petition against remand

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, PTI Secretary General Asad Umar said the party would file a petition against Gill's remand in the high court and expressed hope that the court would hear and decide it today.

Umar claimed the only reason behind Gill's further remand was to torture him and pressure him into extracting a statement favouring the government and against PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

He said a "disgusting conspiracy" was underway to pit the PTI against the army, warning that such an attempt would only be equal to weakening the country.

Meanwhile, PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan said in today's Senate session that every possible legal action should be taken against Gill because "he absolutely should have never uttered what he said. He committed a very big mistake. No such comments can be acceptable". The PTI senator was referring to Gill's comments that he made on ARY News last week.

However, he said a fair trial should be given to Gill before condemning the alleged torture on the detained PTI leader.

'Judicial inquiry'

Earlier, senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry demanded a judicial inquiry into the alleged torture of Gill in police custody.

Speaking to reporters outside the court today, Chaudhry said an independent judicial board must be formed by the IHC to investigate the alleged torture of the party leader. "The board should have the trust of Shahbaz Gill as well as the prosecution," he added.

He was of the view that the IHC should have formed the panel, however, it transferred the case to the district court.

The former minister claimed that the alleged maltreatment of the firebrand party leader was "part of regime change operation to weaken Pakistan".

Read: PM Imran says 'foreign-funded conspiracy' out to topple his govt, claims to have evidence in writing

Chaudhry asked the government to "realise the gravity of the situation and think of Pakistan".

"You can play in politics only if Pakistan is there," he said while insisting that the country's interests must be prioritised.

He emphasised that the PTI "will keep a strict vigil" if a decision in Gill's case turned out to be "wrong".

"We will take care that he [Gill] is not subjected to cruelty," the PTI leader added.

'Gill's life in danger'

Meanwhile, Punjab Home Minister Hashim Dogar said Gill's life was in danger as he was being tortured severely in custody.

In a tweet, Dogar said efforts were afoot to cancel his judicial remand.

Dogar's tweet is a departure from his previous statement, in which he denied reports of Gill being subjected to torture in prison.

Hours before his tweet about the alleged torture of Gill, Dogar said while speaking to the media on Tuesday night that Gill was "completely fine, there is no problem".

"I am very clear. The question doesn't even arise. No one dares to even lay a finger on any prisoner in jail, let alone Shahbaz Gill. I will take direct action if someone does," he had said, adding that he would meet PTI chairperson Imran Khan — who has alleged that Gill was stripped naked, beaten, and mentally tortured behind bars — to apprise him of the "actual situation".

But in a tweet later in the day, Dogar said he had come to know that Gill was illegally kept in the chakki on his first night in the prison, adding that this should not happen with any prisoner.

"I have recommended the removal of DIG and Superintendent to the competent authority," he added.

Tarar urges SC to take notice of jail official's transfer

PML-N leader Attaullah Tarar has said the Supreme Court must take suo motu notice on the transfer of a jail superintendent by Punjab Home Minister Hashim Dogar "just because of one prisoner".

The provincial government had on Tuesday transferred Rawal­­pindi jail superintendent Chau­dhry Asghar Ali and the decision was made after Dogar tweeted that he had “recommended” the removal of the jail officials for “keeping Shahbaz Gill in a special cell (chakki)” on his first night in the prison. “Such treatment is not being meted out to any prisoner. I recommended removal of DIG and Jail Superintendent from the post to the competent authority,” he added.

Attaullah Tarar speaking to media on Wednesday.—Still from DawnNewsTV
Attaullah Tarar speaking to media on Wednesday.—Still from DawnNewsTV

Talking to media in Islamabad, Tarar said a man who uttered "seditious remarks against the armed forces was being dealt with lawfully".

He called out the Punjab government led by PTI and PML-Q for transferring jail officials. "PTI leaders are now raising hue and cry after facing a little severity."

Tarar asked the PTI leadership to condemn Gill's controversial remarks. "The party should have issued a notification on first day that Gill will no longer be chief of staff as he as violated party policy, but the PTI did not do so."

He questioned whether Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi suggested Imran distance his party from Gill's remarks.

'Gill being forced to speak against Imran'

Earlier in the day, Umar claimed that attempts were being made to seek Gill's physical remand and bring him back to Islamabad so police could pressure him to make a false statement against Imran.

Talking to media in Rawalpindi, Umar said the authorities were making efforts to extract a statement against Imran "which Gill has not given so far".

He said the provincial home minister took a decision [about jail official's transfer] on the basis of his observation as "he may have thought that the performance of particular officials is not up to the mark".

Umar also accused investigators of trying to produce a "fake medical report" before the court to imply as if "everything is good".

The controversy

On August 9, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had issued a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing comments from Gill, that it said were “highly hateful and seditious” remarks tantamount to “incite armed forces towards revolt”.

The notice went on to say that Gill was invited via a telephonic call for his comments and during his talk with the channel, Gill had alleged that the government was trying to provoke the lower and middle tier of the army against the PTI, saying the families of such “rank and file” support Imran Khan and his party “which is fuelling rage within the government”.

He had also alleged that the “strategic media cell” of the ruling PML-N was spreading false information and fake news to create divisions between PTI chief Imran Khan and the armed forces.

Gill had said the government leaders, including Javed Latif, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq, had lambasted the army in the past “and they were at the government positions now”.

“The statement made by the guest on ARY News is a violation of Article 19 of the Constitution as well as Pemra laws. Airing of such content on your news channel shows either weak editorial control on the content or the licensee is intentionally indulged in providing its platform to such individuals who intend to spread malice and hatred against state institutions for their vested interests,” the watchdog stated.

“Dr Gill tried to malign the federal government, claiming the government functionaries are spearheading a campaign through social media cell for propagating anti-army narrative,” the authority said.

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