Islamabad court dismisses bail petitions of PTI leaders Qureshi, Umar, Qaiser in May 9 cases

Published June 20, 2023
PTI leaders Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar leave a Islamabad court after their bail plea was dismissed in a case pertaining to May 9 vandalism on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI leaders Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Asad Umar leave a Islamabad court after their bail plea was dismissed in a case pertaining to May 9 vandalism on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

An Islamabad district and sessions court dismissed the bail petitions of PTI leaders Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Asad Qaiser on Tuesday in two separate cases related to May 9 vandalism.

Television footage showed Qureshi and Umar hurriedly walking towards a vehicle and leaving the court after the judgement was announced.

None of the three leaders has been arrested yet, but another suspect, Khan Bahadur, has been taken into custody.

Hearing of Umar, Qureshi’s pleas

Judge Tahir Abbasi Supra took up the bail pleas of Umar and Qureshi today, along with that of another suspect, Khan Bahadur, all three of whom were booked a case registered at Islamabad’s Tarnol police station on the complaint of Sub-Inspector Murtaza Qamar.

The case was registered under Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from the discharge of his duty), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 382 (theft after preparation made for causing death, hurt or restraint in order to the committing of the theft), 440 (mischief committed after preparation for causing death or hurt), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 109 (punishment of abetment if the act abetted is committed in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment), 148 (rioting while armed with a deadly weapon), 149 (every member of an unlawful assembly guilty of an offence committed in prosecution of a common object), 186 (obstructing public servants in discharge of public functions), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and 123-A (condemnation of the creation of the state and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

During the hearing, the court order said, the counsel for the petitioners argued that his clients were “innocent” and “falsely involved” in this case on the “basis of a concocted story”.

He contended that the case against them was a result of “mala fide” and an “ulterior motive on part of the complainant and police”.

The case against them “is one of further probe and inquiry”, the counsel insisted, adding that the offences against their clients did not fall under the prohibitory clause of Section 497 (when bail may be taken in cases of non-bailable offence) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

On these grounds, he prayed the court to accept the bail pleas so that ad-interim pre-arrest bail already granted to their clients may be confirmed.

Public Prosecutor Zahid Asif Chaudhry, contested the counsel’s arguments and sought the dismissal of bail pleas, the court order said.

After hearing arguments of both sides, the court reserved the judgement on the pleas, following which Umar enquired when the ruling would be issued.

To that, judge Supra replied the judgement would be announced at 3pm.

“I have a flight to catch at 4pm, and now I it seems I will have to book another flight,” Umar replied, seeking permission to leave early.

But the judge told him that he needed to be in court at the time of the announcement of the judgement.

Eventually, the court issued its ruling, observing that Bahadur had been accused of blocking the Grand Trunk Road along with 250 to 300 others after PTI chief Imran Khan’s arrest.

Citing the first information report (FIR), the order stated that these people faced allegations of raising anti-state slogans in violation of Section 188 of the PPC and assaulting a police party.

They said “they were acting in compliance with a video message of the PTI chairman, as well as under the orders of … Asad Umar and Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The crowd caused injuries to the police officials and also snatched anti-riot kits and damaged official vehicles”.

With respect to these allegations, the court observed that while freedom of assembly was the right of every citizen, “these rights are not unfettered and the state may impose restrictions upon the exercise of these rights in the interest of public order”.

The court further said, “The exercise of these rights is subject to certain conditions. The use of force and the violation of public peace and tranquility or damage to state property and machinery or assaults on public officials cannot be covered in any manner under the liberties provided in Constitution of Pakistan.”

It added that the protests on May 9 turned “violent” and during the episode, law enforcement agencies, armed forces and their installations were attacked in a “very pre-planned manner”.

“It was not a sudden provocation and a proper investigation can lead to the conclusion that how this occurrences was planned,” the court said.

It observed that in the FIR, Bahadur had been accused of active participation in the events of May 9 while the two PTI leaders faced allegations of abetment.

“Both of them (Umar and Qureshi) being in very senior party positions in the political party concerned had definitely the commanding position,” the court order said. “Their tweets and social media messages have also been placed on record, showing they prompted and instigated their followers to commit such anti-state processions.”

The court concluded that the plea of alibi taken by the two leaders also did not have any effect on the merits of the case as they did not face allegations of direct involvement in this case.

Meanwhile, pre-arrest bail “is an extraordinary relief”, the court said, adding that “nothing specific has been argued regarding the mala fide ulterior motive on part of police” against the petitioners.

The grant of bail at this stage would hamper the process of investigation, the court stated, dismissing the bail pleas and ruling that ad-interim pre-arrest bail already granted to the petitioners were also recalled.

Hearing on Qaiser’s plea

Judge Supra also took up Qaiser’s bail plea today, along with that of five others, in a case registered at Islamabad’s Sangjani police station.

Besides Qaiser, Bahadur was also nominated in this FIR, along with Anwar Zaib, Jamshed Mehboob Mughal, Muhammad Imtiaz and Khalid Mehmood.

The case was registered under Sections 395 (punishment for dacoity), 324 (attempt to murder), 186, 436 (mischief by fire or an explosive substance with the intent to destroy a house, etc), 188 (disobedience to an order duly promulgated by a public servant), 341, 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 148 and 149 of the PPC on behalf of Sangjani Station House Officer Ishtiaq Hussain.

According to the court order, the counsel for the petitioners sought bail for his clients, arguing that they were “falsely involved” in this case on the “basis of a concocted story” and “mala fide”. They argued that the case was a consequence of an “ulterior motive on part of the complainant and police”.

The case against them “is one of further probe and inquiry” and the offences against them did not fall under the prohibitory clause of Section 497of the CrPC, the counsel contended.

Citing the FIR in the case, the court said the suspects were alleged of raising anti-state slogans along with 300 to 400 other armed people, opening straight fires on police and Frontier Corps officials, attacking police posts, setting vehicles on fire and destroying them, injuring the complainant and other police officials, snatching officials weapon from police officials and throwing petrol bombs on them.

Judge Supra reiterated his observations regarding the right to assembly and events of May 9 in his order in this case, stating that event pertaining to the matter took place on May 10.

“As per the allegations, a large number pf protesters came to Islamabad from KP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). A proper investigation can lead to the conclusion that how this occurrence was planned,” the court order read, stating that the petitioners were accused of leading this procession.

“All of them being at very senior positions in the political party concerned definitely had the commanding position,” the court said, adding that the plea of alibi taken by Qaiser and Zaib could not be considered as sufficient ground for granting the relief they sought in view of the intervening distance between their native town and the place of occurrence.

“Such a plea cannot [even] be considered at the time of pre -arrest bail,” the court said.

In this case too, the court termed pre-arrest bail “an extraordinary relief” and said that “nothing specific has been argued regarding the mala fide ulterior motive on part of police” against the petitioners.

It concluded that granting bail at this stage would impede the investigation and dismissed the bail pleas, stating that ad-interim pre-arrest bail already granted to the petitioners were also recalled.

May 9 arrests

Countrywide protests had erupted on May 9 following the arrest of PTI chief at the Islamabad High Court in a graft case. While the protests were under way, several public and private properties, including military installations, were attacked.

The government has held the PTI responsible for the vandalism and several of its leaders and workers have been arrested and booked in relevant cases since.

Among the three PTI leaders who appeared before the court in Islamabad to seek relief, Umar and Qureshi were arrested on May 10 and May 11, respectively, and subsequently released while Qaiser was never taken into custody.

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