Sindh's Qambar police on Saturday said detained PTI leader Azam Swati — who was arrested last month for controversial tweets against senior military officials — is now in its custody.
Senior Superintendent of Police Saddam Hussain Khaskheli, while confirming the development, told Dawn.com that two cases have been registered against Swati in the city.
"He was taken into custody from the Sukkur airport," he said, adding that the senator will be presented before court on Dec 15.
Swati has been under arrest since November 27 over a “highly obnoxious campaign of intimidating tweets […] against state institutions”. Last week he was flown to Quetta by police, where the five cases registered against him in the province were quashed by the Balochistan High Court yesterday. Hours later, he was taken into custody by the Sindh police for cases there.
Earlier today, Swati's lawyer Advocate Iqbal Shah told Dawn.com that the senator was flown to the province via a special flight on Friday night.
Two new cases registered in Balochistan
Shah said that two new criminal complaints had been lodged against the PTI leader in Balochistan’s Bela and Winder for using “offensive language” against senior military officials.
The first information reports (FIRs), that are available with Dawn.com, invoke sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups, etc), 124A (sedition), and 123A (condemnation of the creation of the State, and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
“We will approach the high court with petitions against these cases,” Shah added.
CDA seals Swati's Islamabad farmhouse
Meanwhile, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has sealed Swati's farmhouse, located on Islamabad's Murree Road over violation of building laws.
According to a report issued by the authority, the farmhouse was "transferred to Mrs Tahira Swati" (the PTI leader's wife) on March 25, 2014, and its building plan was approved on May 7, 2015.
"The basement was not approved in the building plan," the CDA said, going on that the first notice in this regard was issued to Swati in 2016. It stated that a reminder was also issued to the senator after a survey of the farmhouse was conducted in 2018.
"There was a deviation from the approved building plan as servant quarter/Kitchen, office block and tractor trolley shed are not constructed. The observations regarding violations were separately conveyed on 29-11-2018."
Hence, the CDA said, a show-cause notice was issued to Swati on November 4, 2022, in accordance with the ICT Building Control Regulations 2020 "with instructions to show sufficient cause within seven days as to why such violations have not been removed and why the premises may not be sealed off until compliance of the by-laws or removal of the same by the authority at the risk and cost beside imposing a penalty".
The report added that a final notice regarding the matter was issued to the senator on November 16 — in which the CDA had warned that if violations were not removed within seven days, it would seal the farmhouse.
It further said that Swati had approached the court seeking a restraining order for the farmhouse until November 30. "Thereafter hearings were held on December 6, December 8 and December 9 and the honourable Court of Saqib Jawad Civil has ordered that the application in hand for grant of temporary injunction stands dismissed on 09-12-2022.
"As the temporary injunction stands dismissed, hence it is proposed that non-compoundable violations may be removed by the authority besides sealing of the premises/property with the assistance of the Enforcement Directorate and ICT administration until willingness of the owner to comply at his own of the Islamabad Capital Territory Building Control Regulations-2020," the report concluded.
Arrest and transfers
Swati's arrest last month had come after an FIR was registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on the complaint of the state through Islamabad Cyber Crime Reporting Centre (CCRC) Technical Assistant Aneesur Rehman.
The complaint was registered under Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 (Peca) which deals with offences against dignity of a person as well as Sections 131 (abetting mutiny or attempting to seduce a soldier from his duty),500 (punishment for defamation), 501 (defamation and printing of content deemed defamatory), Section 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
Separate FIRs were also registered against the PTI leader in Balochistan and Sindh as well. Last week, Swati was brought to Quetta from Islamabad in one such case registered at the Kuchlak police station.
The judicial magistrate of Kuchlak had remanded Swati in police custody for five days. During a hearing on Friday, the Balochistan High Court had ordered the quashing of all five cases registered against him in the province.
Hours after the order was passed, Swati's lawyer told Dawn.com that the PTI senator had been handed over to the Sindh police.
In a related development, the Sindh High Court issued notices to the police, FIA and other respondents yesterday in two petitions challenging the registration of identical cases against Swati in the province.
The two-judge bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha, asked the police to submit details of the cases on Dec 22, the next date of hearing.