• IHC reserves decision on PTI senator’s plea against shifting him to other provinces
• Lawmaker scheduled to appear before court tomorrow
• Imran takes issue with Swati’s transfer

RAWALPINDI / ISLAMABAD / QUETTA: PTI Senator Azam Swati was shifted to Quetta aboard a special flight amid tight security on Friday after the judicial magistrate of Islamabad handed over his custody to the Balochistan police.

An FIR was registered at the Kuchlak Police Station a few days ago on the application of a citizen who complained that Mr Swati had used abusive language and made objectionable remarks against the officers of Pakistan Army.

From the Quetta airport, he was taken to an unknown place. He also faces cases registered at Bela, Hub, Khuzdar, Pasni and Zhob police stations.

Azam Swati was handed over to the Balochistan Police on transit remand and directed to appear before the court on Dec 4.

Mr Swati was arrested on Nov 27 for posting controversial tweets.

Judicial Magistrate Shabbir Bhatti on Thursday sent the senator on a 14-day judicial remand on the request of the Federal Investigation Agency.

FIA’s cybercrime wing arrested him and registered an FIR under the relevant sections of law after he delivered a “fiery” speech at a PTI rally in Rawalpindi.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan expressed concern over the manner in which the party senator was treated. “Swati was moved to Pims (Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences) early morning [Friday] after suffering severe chest pains and breathing issues,” the former premier said in a tweet. “While test results were awaited, Quetta police got him discharged and took him away endangering his life.”

Plea for transfer of cases

In a related development, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) reserved its verdict on the maintainability of a petition filed against shifting of Senator Swati to other provinces.

The petition sought details of the cases registered against Mr Swati across Pakistan.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Munawar Iqbal Duggal argued that after the 18th Amendment, police had become a subject of provincial governments and therefore the federal government cannot issue any direction to police chiefs of the provinces.

IHC Chief Justice Farooq inquired whether the Centre had any administrative control over the provincial police.

Mr Duggal said the federal government can coordinate with the provincial police over policy matters but it lacks jurisdiction to issue any direction.

He told the court that the federal government can provide details of the cases registered by FIA but is unable to provide information about the cases registered across Pakistan.

Babar Awan, counsel for Mr Swati, argued that since the matter pertains to fundamental rights, therefore from that perspective, it is a policy matter, and the Centre can seek details of FIRs from the provinces.

“How the Centre could express its inability to go beyond Faizabad or Attock,” he argued, adding it is the right of Mr Swati to get details of FIRs registered against him so that he can seek bail from the courts of competent jurisdiction.

Mr Duggal pointed out that the petitioner had not cited home ministries of the provinces as respondents.

The petition termed Mr Swati’s arrest political victimisation.

It said Mr Swati was already on bail in an identical matter. He was taken into custody earlier on Oct 21 and was subjected to brutal custodial torture as well as disgraced by stripping naked.

It said: “The petitioner has reliable information and strong apprehension of his custodial killing. In addition to his private moments being filmed and sent to the children of the family, the petitioner is being subjected to every possible inhuman treatment.”

The petition said that multiple FIRs have been registered against Mr Swati in Sindh and Balochistan. Copies of five FIRs were annexed with the petition.

According to the petition, the senator was unable to know the exact number of FIRs registered against him and requested the court to issue direction to the interior secretary to submit the details of all such cases.

The petition also requested the count to restrain the respondent authorities from handing over Mr Swati to the police of Sindh and Balochistan until the relevant record is produced before the court.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022

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