The chief justice of the Lahore High Court has questioned the integrity of the police and an anti-terrorism court judge in taking action against Ayesha Iqbal – who claims to be married to MNA Hamza Shahbaz, son of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif – and ordered her release on bail.
Iqbal was remanded in police custody for 10 days by ATC Judge Tahir Pervaiz last Tuesday in an abduction case. “Prima facie [there was] some foul play on the part of the learned judge of Anti-Terrorism Court II,” said a special division bench headed by Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry in a written order at the end of Friday’s hearing.
Sources close to Iqbal, daughter of former PML-Quaid MPA Ahad Malik, claimed that Hamza Shahbaz was behind the case against her as he wanted to keep their marriage a secret. They said that the couple had married in September 2010, and Iqbal’s daughter from a previous marriage, 19-year-old Mahnoor, had captured on video the moment where Shahbaz says he accepts Iqbal as his wife. They said that Shahbaz had been angered to learn of the mobile phone video and had then used the maid, who he had arranged for, to implicate Iqbal in a fake kidnapping case.
Iqbal told reporters during the remand hearing last week that she was married to Shahbaz.
The bench reacted with shock when told that the ATC judge had remanded Iqbal in police custody for 10 days when they had not even asked for it. “It seems that there was malicious intent behind the proceedings,” the bench said, adding that such judges should be de-seated.
Kazim Ali Malik, who is in charge of the LHC human rights and vigilance cell, was told to investigate the judge’s actions and submit a report to the court next week.
The court also questioned the police investigation and told the Punjab Police inspector general to appoint DIG Major (r) Mubasharullah to head an investigation into the actions of the Defence A police station house officer (SHO) and officer in charge of investigation. The DIG has a reputation for exposing corrupt police officers and recently led investigations into a staged encounter at Nishtar Colony and the handling of a case involving a bureaucrat’s son who had killed a motorcyclist allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
“As far as insertion of Section 365-A of PPC [which relates to abduction] in the FIR is concerned, it appears that the police acted dishonestly,” the court said.
The court suspended the ATC order remanding Iqbal in police custody and granted her interim bail till October 13.
According to the FIR registered on the complaint of one ‘Lory Vie P Docog’, a Philippine woman, Iqbal had abused a maid who worked for her. The complainant, who had arranged for the maid, said that Iqbal used to lock her in a room and not feed her, and was refusing to let her go back to the Philippines. The complainant said Iqbal had trespassed into her home, beaten her niece and abducted her son Joseph.
Iqbal submitted in her petition through Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar that the FIR was fictional. She said that the initial FIR did not include Section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code. She said that a court had granted her and her daughter pre-arrest bail during a hearing on September 28. But the investigation officer then told the court that an abduction charge had been added against Iqbal and her daughter.
The judge called a short break till noon. But before that, the police bundled her and her daughter into a van – allegedly injuring them in the process – and drove them to the station. The judge learned of the incident and summoned the investigation officer, who said that they had been arrested in another case registered under Section 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code (criminal intimidation). The matter was then referred to Anti-Terrorism Court II.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2011.
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