• Former Punjab CM returns to custody as ACE arrests him in yet another case
• Lahore ATC ‘discharges’ ex-health minister, 23 others from Jinnah House attack case
• Over 100 PTI men, women still in custody over storming of corps commander house
LAHORE: While an anti-terrorism court discharged PTI’s Punjab president Dr Yasmin Rashid in the Jinnah House attack case, the authorities seem determined not to set Chaudhry Parvez Elahi at liberty, as despite being discharged in two graft cases, the PTI president was taken into custody again on Saturday in yet another case.
The former Punjab chief minister was re-arrested in Gujranwala for ‘illegal recruitments’ in the Punjab Assembly, shortly after he had got relief from the court in two cases.
“We have re-arrested Mr Elahi in a case related to recruitments of 12 Grade-17 officers in the Punjab Assembly against merit. He got changed the results of these candidates belonging to Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin. We have collected evidence and also arrested Secretary Punjab Assembly Rai Mumtaz Hussain in this regard,” an Anti-Corruption Establishment spokesperson said.
He said Mr Elahi was being shifted to Lahore from Gujranwala and would be produced before a judicial magistrate on Sunday (today) for physical remand.
According to ACE Director General Sohail Zafar Chattha, Mr Elahi had been discharged in two corruption cases on “technical grounds” by the judicial magistrate Gujranwala that there was no mechanism to arrest a chief minister.
“The ACE has observed all legal and codal formalities for initiation of the inquiry and subsequent arrest of the former chief minister. There was no violation of any law and rules. The ACE will file an appeal against the judgement to discharge the accused as there is strong evidence of corruption in the project against him,” Mr Chattha said.
Earlier in the day, the former chief minister was produced before Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Afzal’s court in Gujranwala in the two cases related to taking kickbacks in development projects. After the arguments from the ACE and Mr Elahi’s lawyers, the court discharged the PTI president in both the cases and ordered his immediate release if he was not required in any other case.
Talking to reporters on the court premises, Mr Elahi said that despite being ill, he was not provided medicines despite having medical reports.
“I was kept in the most stinking place in custody. I was not even allowed to go to the washroom,” he alleged and added that what was happening to him was a ‘well thought out conspiracy’ against him.
“However, I will not leave the PTI as I am standing with it like a rock,” Elahi declared.
A day earlier, he said he would not hold any press conference — a reference to those PTI leaders who recently secured relief in their cases by holding pressers in which they announced quitting the party.
ATC discharges Dr Rashid and 23 others
Meanwhile, an anti-terrorism court on Saturday discharged PTI Punjab president Dr Yasmin Rashid and 23 other suspects who were arrested in the Jinnah House attack case during the May 9 violence.
Sarwar Road police produced Dr Rashid and others before the court.
The investigating officer requested the court to grant a 14-day physical remand of Dr Rashid to conduct her photogrammetry test, voice match and recover her mobile phone(s).
Advocate Rana Mudassar Umar, on behalf of Dr Rashid, opposed the remand and argued that the police had no evidence against his client. He said Dr Rashid was an elderly woman with multiple health issues and her custody with the police might endanger her life.
Judge Abher Gul Khan observed that the case record revealed that Dr Rashid was not nominated in the FIR nor was she involved through supplementary statements.
The judge noted that the woman leader was summoned in the case based on the disclosure of a co-suspect, which had no evidentiary value in the eyes of the law.
The judge ordered the police to release Dr Rashid forthwith if not required in any other case.
However, the PTI leader is unlikely to be released yet as she is on judicial remand in two other cases, including attack on Shadman police station and violence on Sher Pao Bridge.
The IO further told the court that as many as 126 suspects had undergone the process of the identification parade in the Jinnah House attack case. He said 23 suspects had not been found guilty in the identification parade, therefore, they could be discharged in the case.
The judge allowed the police application and discharged 23 suspects in the case.
Over 100 still in custody
Separately, the judge allowed Sarwar Road police a physical remand of 89 male and 13 female suspects after they were positively identified in the Jinnah House attack case.
The police presented all the suspects before the court and the IO said the suspects had been recognised by the prosecution witnesses during their identification parade.
Judge Abher Gul Khan granted the police a seven-day physical remand for the male suspects, with a directive to produce them again on June 10.
Initially, the judge denied a request for the physical remand of the 13 women, including former PTI MNA Alia Hamza, fashion designer Khadija Shah, Sanam Javed, and Tayyaba Raja, among others
The judge directed police to conduct the photogrammetry test of the women suspects inside the jail, but the IO, assisted by Special State Prosecutor Syed Farhad Ali Shah, made another request before the court saying that the photogrammetry test proceedings could not be conducted in the jail.
The judge accepted the request and allowed five-day physical remand of the women suspects. But he ordered they would remain in police custody till sunset, and would be shifted afterward daily.
Later, caretaker information minister Amir Mir while talking to Channel 24 claimed the judge had ruled in favour of Mr Elahi without listening to arguments of ACE lawyers.
Zulqernain Tahir also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2023