Gill handed back in police custody amid high drama

Jail authorities show reluctance as Islamabad police seek custody of PTI leader on court order


​ Our Correspondents August 17, 2022
Photo: Express

RAWALPINDI/ ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shehbaz Gill was handed over to the Islamabad police late on Wednesday after a five-hour high drama at the Adiala jail, following order of the sessions court of the federal capital.

The police teams of Islamabad and the twin city of Rawalpindi came face to face, after the Adiala jail authorities showed reluctance to hand over Gill. After several hours of stand-off, the federal government had to call Rangers and Frontier Corps (FC) after which Gill was handed over to Islamabad police.

Earlier, the Additional Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry gave the Islamabad police a 48-hour physical remand of Gill. When the police team reached the prison to take custody of the PTI leader, he refused to go with the Islamabad police.

Later an ambulance of PIMS Hospital was called to the Adiala Jail and a team of senior officers of Rawalpindi police also reached there. The medical superintendent of the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital and senior doctors were also summoned.

Gill complained that his health had deteriorated due to torture. He underwent medical examination at the PIMS Hospital, for which a board comprising five doctors was formed. Gill was shifted to a ward by ambulance.

Read: IHC orders local court to decide on Gill's physical remand today

According to the initial report, Gill was having breathing problem and suffering from fever and back pain. The duty magistrate in Islamabad, Farrukh Ali Khan, ordered the investigating officer to submit the medical examination report on Thursday (today) morning and present the accused in court on completion of his physical remand on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Judge Zeba Chaudhry allowed a review application of the police against an earlier decision of the judicial magistrate and remanded Gill to police custody for 48 hours. The judge also ordered the investigating officer to conduct medical examination of the accused.

Gill was arrested on charges of sedition on August 9, following his controversial remarks in an interview with a private TV channel. On August 10, he was produced before a judicial magistrate in Islamabad, who handed him over to police on physical remand for two days.

On August 12, the magistrate rejected police’s request for further physical remand and sent Gill to Adiala jail on judicial remand. The prosecution challenged the magistrate’s order in the sessions court, which also rejected the prosecution’s request.

The government then challenged the session court’s decision in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which referred the matter to sessions court to take a fresh decision. Consequently, Judge Chaudhry heard the police’s request on Wednesday and granted further physical remand of Gill for two days.

However, Gill’s legal team immediately moved the IHC, challenging Judge Chaudhry’s decision, while his family wrote a letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, regarding torture on Gill and violation of his fundamental rights.

The letter was written by the brother-in-law of Gill, in which he said that the authorities wanted to make Gill an example and torturing him to give statement against PTI Chairman Imran Khan. He further said that family was worried about Gill’s health.

The allegations of torture on Gill were also raised during three-hour long proceedings in the court of Judge Chaudhry. Gill’s lawyer Salman Safdar argued that the government instigated the case against his client to seek political revenge. He said that Gill was tortured in his private body parts.

At the outset of the hearing, Special Public Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi, argued on the review plea, saying that the accused had revealed during police investigation that there was a lot of material in his mobile phone, which needed to be recovered from him.

Abbasi, while stressing the need for police remand, argued that many aspects of the case were yet to be investigated. Since the accused belonged to a political party, he expressed the apprehension that evidence on phone might be destroyed.

The prosecutor told the court that even in cases of theft, remand was granted for up to eight days but in this case, which had been registered under the sedition clauses, the judicial magistrate accepted the statement of the accused as final and refused to grant further physical remand.

Gill’s lawyer argued that it could be seen in a video of his client’s arrest that he had put his mobile phone in his pocket at the time of his arrest. He added that the case revolved around a speech that might be inappropriate, but it could never be rebellion.

Gill’s speech was a patriotic speech, he continued, some parts of it were taken out of context. He also referred to the cases of former services chiefs, Gen Mirza Aslam Baig and Air Chief Marshal Asghar Khan, in which the Supreme Court had ruled that illegal orders should not be obeyed.

The prosecutor replied that Gill gave the police a simple phone at the time of his arrest but his smartphone could not be recovered. He raised the question how would it sound to tell the bureaucracy not to listen to their officers, or tell a brigadier and the ranks below to disobey their superiors.

Abbasi also told the court that Gill was not subjected to any kind of torture. As a public prosecutor, he told the court, “I say that the accusation of torture against Shahbaz Gill is false”. According to the medical report, he added, Gill was not tortured.

After three hours of hearing, the court passed the order, accepting the request of the police and ordered the accused’s handover to the Islamabad police on physical remand for 48 hours.

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