PTI leader Shahbaz Gill, who has been arrested on charges of sedition and inciting mutiny in the army, approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday for post-arrest bail till the disposal of the case.
Gill was arrested on August 9 after he made controversial remarks allegedly about the army during an ARY News bulletin and has been detained since, amid claims of him being subjected to torture and sexual abuse during custody.
Police have denied these allegations and sought extensions in his remand multiple times, maintaining that it was required to complete the case’s investigation.
Earlier this week, an Islamabad district and sessions court had dismissed the PTI leader’s plea seeking post-arrest bail.
Subsequently, he has filed a similar bail petition with the IHC. The petition has been accepted and will be taken up on Monday (September 5) by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah.
The petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said that the case registered against Gill was “politically motivated” with “ulterior motives and malafide intentions”.
“For charges under mutiny and sedition, approval and sanction of the federal government is a pre-requisite,” it argued, claiming that neither was granted in this case.
“Without permission and sanction, the very registration of a first information report, followed by arrest, detention and remand under Section 167 CrPC, is a nullity in the eyes of the law.”
The plea stated that the FIR against Gill had been registered after the passage of one day, which it claimed was used to “cook up a story by manipulating and twisting the words of his statement”.
It further argued that the PTI leader was a senior party member and ever since the incumbent government came to power, it had been trying to lodge a case against him and put him behind bars.
“These repeated attempts made to incarcerate him clearly and obviously point towards political victimisation of the petitioner. It is, therefore, a politically motivated case in which offences have recklessly been applied,” the petition argued.
It went on to say that the allegations against Gill were “vague, misconstrued, and based on incorrect facts”, and pleaded that his speech on ARY News had to be seen in totality to get the real meaning and context intended to be conveyed.
Mentioning the alleged torture of Gill, the petition argued that the PTI leader was subjected to “physical abuse, torture and violence” during custody.
The petitioner, it added, was suffering from genuine and serious medical complications. “He requires sophisticated treatment and medical care which, unfortunately, is not available in prison.”
Gill’s application also gave a detailed account of his medical condition as stated in the report issued by the Pakistan Institute of Management (Pims), which said he was suffering from asthma. “Moreover, the jail authorities observed bruises and marks of violence on different parts of his body.”
It added that the PTI leader hailed from a “noble family” and was also a “respectable citizen”. The plea said that Gill was incarcerated despite the completion of the probe.
“It is respectfully prayed that the petitioner may graciously be admitted to post-arrest bail, till the final disposal of the case,” the plea reads.
The saga of Gill’s remand
Gill was taken into custody 9 under Sections 34 (common intention), 109 (abetment), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), 121 (waging war against state), 124-A (sedition), 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempt to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 153 (provoking to cause riot), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
Later, Dawn reported that Section 201 of the PPC — causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information to screen offender — was added to the FIR.
A day after his arrest, an Islamabad district and sessions court had granted police a two-day physical remand of the PTI leader.
Two days later, police had sought an extension in the remand but the court had turned down the request and sent Gill on a judicial remand instead.
Police had then filed a review petition against the rejection of their application the same day. However, this appeal was also rejected and subsequently, Islamabad Advocate General Jahangir Khan Jadoon moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for Gill’s physical remand.
However, it was only two hours after the court’s ruling that Islamabad police were able to take Gill’s custody.
According to a Dawn report, in a bid to thwart Gill’s handover to capital police, arrangements were made to move the PTI leader to Rawalpindi District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital after he complained of breathing trouble, even though jail authorities were convinced that they had the facilities to treat him.
When he was eventually handed over to Islamabad police late night that day, the PTI leader was shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences owing to his health complaints.
The development led to a delay in the completion of Gill’s physical remand, with the trial court concluding on Friday last week that the remand time began at 7:15am that day, when the PTI leader was handed over to police by hospital authorities, and not on Wednesday.
At the time, the court had suspended the handing over of Gill to police for the completion of his two-day physical remand and directed Islamabad police to shift him to the Pims for a medical examination on complaints of his ill health.
When Gill was again produced before the court on Monday, it had ruled: “The time for physical remand would start when the custody of accused would be given to investigation officer for interrogation and recovery and by no stretch of the imagination the time spent by accused in hospital can be considered as a time of physical remand.”
It had fixed the time of commencement for the 48 hours at 1pm on Monday and ordered Gill to be produced in court on Wednesday (today) at, or before, 1pm.
Yesterday, the IHC upheld the additional district and sessions judge’s order to hand over Gill’s custody to Islamabad police, with Acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq observing that the evidence placed before the additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) led to the conclusion that another two-day police remand was required.
Subsequently, the IHC ruled that “no interference was required in the order of the revisional court [ADSJ]”.
Authorities have maintained that the ongoing investigation against Gill and collection of evidence cannot be completed without an extension of his remand in police custody.
Meanwhile, PTI leaders have alleged that Gill has been subjected to torture and abuse in police custody and contended the demand for Gill’s physical remand based on these claims.
On Tuesday, Gill also accused police of physically and mentally torturing him and orchestrating a “fake medical checkup” when his “body was full of bruises”. He has also alleged that he was stripped and thrown into a room where he was beaten and kicked for three nights after his arrest on August 9.
He levelled these accusations in front of a committee formed by the Islamabad police chief upon the IHC’s directives to probe his claims of torture during custody.
Gill claimed no doctor at Pims checked him.
In a related development, another case has been registered against Gill at the Secretariat police station after two weapons were recovered from his room at the Parliament Lodges.