Saturday Jan 28, 2023
ISLAMABAD: A local court in Islamabad has sent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry on a two-day physical remand in a sedition case.
Judicial Magistrate Waqas Ahmed Raja announced the verdict after — earlier in the day — a district and sessions court accepted the Islamabad Police's petition overturning a decision that sent the former minister on judicial remand and rejected Fawad's plea to discharge him from the sedition case.
In the order issued Saturday, the judicial magistrate ordered the Islamabad Police to produce the former federal information minister before his court on Monday (January 30) upon the expiry of his remand.
Fawad — who is facing sedition charges for publicly “threatening” the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a media talk — was arrested from his Lahore residence on Wednesday after a case was registered against him at the Kohsar Police Station.
He was presented before the court on Friday after the expiry of his physical remand, however, the prosecution’s request for an extension was turned down by Judicial Magistrate Waqas Ahmed Raja. Later, the decision was overturned by the session court.
During the hearing, PTI lawyer Babar Awan termed the "tactics" being used against Fawad as "state's terrorism" and noted that the session judge has limited powers to review a court decision.
“The power to grant physical and judicial remand lies with the magistrate. Sessions court does not have the power to physically remand anyone. The court cannot practice fictitious powers.”
As the prosecution repeatedly said that it wants a photogrammetric test, Awan said: “I can assure you that Fawad is real, not fake.”
Fawad’s brother, Faisal Chaudhary, also said that the PTI leader’s mobile phone had been taken away.
“What was the need for taking the phone? The statement was made by Fawad — who has already owned his assertions, not by the phone,” Faisal, who is a lawyer by profession, said.
Awan also slammed the decision of the sessions judge, saying that he had given a hasty decision.
“The judge did not even give us a chance to consult each other,” Awan complained, adding, “what Fawad did, the whole of Pakistan is doing. It’s just that when people begin to pay heed to what someone is saying, the person becomes a problem.”
Awan reiterated that Fawad was not going anywhere, adding that even if there is any problem, Fawad would get treatment in Pakistan at his own expense.
The court later allowed Fawad to confer with his legal team and meet his wife.
Fawad’s lawyers Saturday also filed a petition in the Judicial Magistrate’s Court.
The petition stated that despite the court order, Fawad was not being allowed to meet his legal team, or his family, and the police should be instructed to ensure that Fawad is permitted to meet his legal counsel and family.
For his part, the prosecutor said that a judicial magistrate cannot review the decision of a sessions court and demanded that the judicial magistrate announce his verdict on physical remand.
The prosecutor noted that during the two-day physical remand that was granted to the police, they had to conduct Fawad's photogrammetric test, but it could not be done.
Seeking physical remand of the PTI leader, he said that one mobile phone of Fawad was with the authorities, however, they needed more of his electronic devices.
In his arguments, the election commission's lawyer said that Fawad's photogrammetric test was necessary and that he should be sent on physical remand.
"Time wasn't wasted during the physical remand [granted earlier]," he argued.
After hearing all the arguments, the court reserved the verdict.
Taking notice of today’s incident, PTI Chairman Imran Khan lashed out at the authorities and said that the manner in which Fawad was presented before the court was proof of the government’s “vindictiveness".
Referring to the current government and its leaders as “pharaohs”, Khan also underscored the treatment meted out to PTI leaders Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill as proof that the country was in disarray.
In his series of tweets, the PTI chief stated: “Taking Fawad to court handcuffed and head/face covered like a terrorist shows the low and vindictive levels [the] imported government and state have reached.
"The treatment of Fawad and Azam Swati and Gill before him leaves no doubt in people’s mind that now we are a banana republic," the ex-prime minister, who was ousted last April, said.
Khan further added: “The law of the jungle now prevails where might is right & the Constitution & law of the land have been totally subjugated by the Pharaohs of today.”