An Islamabad district and sessions court on Monday granted police two-day physical remand of embattled PTI leader Shahbaz Gill, who has been arrested in connection with a sedition case registered against him.
Earlier today, court had directed authorities to present Gill, who had been shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on Friday.
The court had previously concluded that Gill's two-day remand in police custody, which was to end on Friday, began late and as such remained incomplete. However, in light of reports on Gill's health and alleged torture, the court had suspended his handing over to the police.
According to the court order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Gill's "48-hours physical custody subject to pre and post-medical examination" was extended till August 24.
It fixed the time of commencement for the 48 hours at 1pm today and ordered Gill to be produced in court on Wednesday at, or before, 1pm.
It also directed the investigating officer (IO) to follow the high court's order and allow Gill to meet his legal counsels. The IO was further ordered to "provide every needful medical facility, as and when required" to the PTI leader.
IHC rejects Gill's please against physical remand
Meanwhile, in a simultaneous proceeding in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), IHC Acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq rejected the PTI's plea against Gill's physical remand.
On Gill's torture claims, the court ordered the federal government and interior secretary to appoint an inquiry officer to probe the reports, adding that a retired high court judge should be picked for the job.
The IHC ordered that an officer of SSP rank should monitor Gill's remand, further adding that the officer should ensure that the PTI leader is subjected to no violence during his remand.
Gill claims he was 'force-fed'
Judicial Magistrate Malik Aman presided over today's session court hearing during which Gill took the stand and asked the judge to see all that has been happening with him.
The judge asked Gill whether he had gotten himself examined by doctors. The PTI leader replied that he had been on a hunger strike since last night and was not being allowed to meet anyone.
He claimed that six to seven people had also tried to "force-feed" him at 3am. Gill alleged that he was also "tied down and shaved" by 10 to 12 men.
During the hearing, Gill also said that he had not been given a fresh set of clothes during the past five days and had also not bathed during this period. He claimed that clothes had been sent from his home but they had been taken away.
Gill said he was ready to go with the police if he was not tortured. "I should be sent to jail. I am ready to cooperate in the investigation there," he added.
The PTI leader said the judge could only fathom what the police had done with him, adding that the investigation had continued even during his hospital stay.
"You will hand me over to them to die. I will not appear before you after that then. I am an asthmatic," Gill told the court.
Gill not subjected to any torture: Islamabad police report
Meanwhile, the Islamabad police submitted a report in court today which stated that Gill was not subjected to any kind of torture starting from his arrest till the time he was sent to Adiala jail.
Last week, after it was alleged of torturing the PTI leader sexually, physically and mentally, Islamabad police had announced that it would conduct investigation into the matter.
"As per the statement of jail authorities and expert reports of the Pims Medical Board conducted on Aug 11, 17 and 18, no signs of torture were found on the body of the accused," it said.
The report elaborated that the PTI leader had been examined by three medical boards and was also given the opportunity for medical examination twice by the Islamabad administration.
"But Gill refused to this opportunity for unknown reasons."
The Islamabad police also said that the allegations of physical, mental and sexual torture on the politician behind bars was not "corroborated by plausible evidence".
"The conduct of Shahbaz Gill on Aug 17 is not above board and he has put up a show to avoid the physical remand. Hence, this allegation of subjecting torture to the accused is baseless and frivolous and an attempt to hamper the police investigations," the report concluded.
During the hearing, Gill's lawyer said that the PTI leader was not being allowed to meet with his lawyers despite the IHC's earlier orders.
"Where is the order of the IHC? I will give my verdict after looking at that," the judge remarked. During the proceedings, he also noted that Gill's health appeared to have "improved".
The judge also inquired about the whereabouts of the case file and investigation record. He expressed anger that Gill was presented before the court but the case file was missing.
"The record is with the IHC since it has reserved the verdict," Gill's lawyer Faisar Jadoon informed the judge, requesting the court to adjourn the hearing for some time. He was referring to the IHC taking up Gill's plea against his physical remand.
The judge asked Jadoon if the hearing should be adjourned till the case file arrived to which the lawyer said to wait till 2pm. The judge subsequently ordered adjourned the hearing.
When the hearing resumed after 1:30pm, Gill's lawyers Faisal Chaudhry and Babar Awan also arrived in the court. Chaudhry told the court that police were asking for Gill's physical remand just so that they could torture him some more.
The judge pointed out that he had been informed that the investigation officer and the record were with the IHC to which Awan responded that no investigation record was present with the high court.
At one point, the judge asked Chaudhry to inform him about the case history.
"A script was concocted from three sources to register the case," Chaudhry said, adding that Gill remained under investigation for two days and another case was registered on August 11.
"This case mentions a mobile phone. A raid was launched and the wife of [Gill's] driver was picked up," Chaudhry said, further explaining that it had been 15 days since the case was registered yet the interim challan had not been filed.
"Gill has been in their custody since day one. Police were stationed at the hospital after installing barbed wires. Videos continued to be filmed inside Pims and Gill gave a statement saying he was stripped naked and tortured," the lawyer said.
The judge asked whether Chaudhry had informed the court of these arguments, to which he replied in the affirmative.
Awan said that Gill had been in Islamabad police's custody for 13 days and it was not known where he was kept during that period. "This is the third round of remand that has started," he added.
Awan said there was "no doubt" that Gill had given a beeper through a telephone, referring to his comments on ARY News.
"Shahbaz Gill was tortured in these 14 days. [His] video was leaked. He is a professor, a citizen of the United States [and] his wife is also a professor," the Awan asserted.
He went on to say that Gill was stripped naked, adding that he did not want to say anything more than that. The PTI's legal team also submitted Gill's medical report to the court.
During his arguments, Special Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi argued that Gill's physical remand had not started due to his two-day stay at Pims.
"I do not support physical torture. Physical remand will begin when the court issues the order," Abbasi said. The court then reserved its verdict after Abbasi completed his arguments. '
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.