PESHAWAR: PESHAWAR. After eight years of confinement, Swat’s controversial cleric Maulana Sufi Muhammad was released from jail on Monday in view of a verdict of the Peshawar high Court (PHC) which on Jan 8 ordered his release after seven years of incarceration.
The cleric’s son confirmed his release to The Express Tribune. The six-page judgment written by Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth on the Maulana’s bail plea noted that the accused was being released on bail mainly on medical ground and due to delay in commencement of his trial.
The founder of the banned Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) had approached the PHC after his bail application was refused by the additional district and sessions judge in Swat on November 25, 2017.
Maulana’s counsel had filed an instant bail appeal on medical grounds as well as delay in start of his trial, and the PHC on December 13, 2017 directed the Peshawar Central Prison superintendent to form a medical board and submit a report on the TNSM chief’s illness and treatment.
Within two days, the report was submitted which said the accused, now almost 85 or 86, suffered from multiple diseases including hypertension, breathlessness, enlarged prostate, retention of urine secondary and heart problem.
The medical report also suggested that The TNSM chief was advanced in years, having multiple diseases, but there were no advance treatment facilities and his illness was not curable inside the prison.
Charge-sheet and delay in trial
An FIR registered in Swat’s Kabal police station in 2009 against Sufi Muhammad said the accused in 1995 formed an unlawful assembly in Swat and delivered hate speeches against the government.
He had been behind the bars since his arrest on March 4, 2010. The record suggests that initially he was charged with offence under 7(B) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. After completion of probe, a complete challan was submitted before the trial court after which the Maulana was charged-sheeted on Nov 11, 2012.
The trial of the case commenced but concluded and closed on January 12, 2015. Before recording the statement, the accused under section 342 CrPc moved an application for transfer of the case under Section 23 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
After hearing arguments on the application, the case was transferred to the ordinary court of law on March 07, 2015. “But the accused has never been produced before the trial court for the commencement of the trial,” said the detail judgment.
On January 01, 2017, another application was filed by his counsel for restoration of the trial. The application was accepted but once again the accused was not presented before the trial court.