Fawad Chaudhry was snatched from his Lahore residence early on Wednesday and produced in court after being charged with “sedition” for criticising the ECP. The LHC rules that the arrest was legitimate and rejects the former minister’s recovery habeas corpus petition
Fawad Chaudhry was arrested on sedition charges
On Wednesday, a court in the federal capital ordered PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry to be held in custody for two days as a result of his detention from Lahore earlier in the day. He was brought before magistrate Naveed Khan by the Islamabad police in a sedition case.
After his arrest on sedition charges, the capital police obtained his transit remand from a judicial magistrate in Lahore and transported him to Islamabad, escorted by a fleet of police mobile vans, on the basis of a complaint from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary lodged at the Kohsar police station.
PTI filed a habeas corpus case with the Lahore High Court shortly after Mr. Chaudhry’s arrest, requesting his release from the “illegal custody of the police.”
But in the evening, the high court dismissed the plea and stated that “prima facie no illegality had been done in his arrest.”
Before appearing in Naveed Khan’s court in Islamabad, the PTI leader was brought to Pims for a medical examination. The former minister was shown on camera making a victory sign while being brought to the hospital by two police officers while donning a white face mask.
The police presented him in court after the medical examination, face clothed in white, and requested an eight-day physical remand. Zulfi Bukhari, his brother Faisal Chaudhry, and others argued against the physical remand in front of the judge.
Speaking to the judge, Mr. Chaudhry identified himself as a Supreme Court attorney and said that despite the fact that at least “1,500 police troops were positioned” outside the courtroom, he was handcuffed by the police. He said that he had also been accused of mutiny by the police, who called the accusations “baseless.” He claimed that the ECP was not exempt from criticism and that filing such FIRs would jeopardise the nation’s democracy.
The ECP attorney laid out the details of the FIR at the court and claimed that Mr Chaudhry had mocked the ECP, a constitutional authority. He described the incident as a “well-planned plot” and asserted that “unknown people addressed threatening letters to the ECP.” Additionally, the attorney offered to discuss these letters with the judge in private.
The police prosecutor claimed that in order to match Fawad Chaudhry’s voice, run photogrammetric tests, and conduct a forensic analysis of his laptop and mobile phone, the investigative team needed to have Fawad Chaudhry in their custody. The defence attorney protested, arguing that since Fawad Chaudhry did not dispute the details of his media interview, such testing was unnecessary.
At least 150 police officers were stationed in and near the District and Sessions Court in Sector F-8 prior to his hearing to keep the peace. According to police officials speaking to Dawn, a fleet of the Punjab police and three police cars, among them a car in which Fawad Chaudhry was riding, drove towards Islamabad. Between Islamabad and Lahore, every district had a new Punjab police fleet, they said.
Instead of being held at the Kohsar police station in Islamabad, Mr. Chaudhry was put in a lock-up run by the Counter-Terrorism Department, a government official said, to “prevent any mishap and for better interrogation.”
Occurrences in Lahore
A magistrate in Lahore had earlier accepted the accused’s transit remand and ordered the police to take him to the hospital for a checkup before turning him into court within 24 hours. Speaking to the magistrate while being led into the courtroom in handcuffs, Mr. Fawad Chaudhry claimed he was happy to have been charged with “sedition” because Nelson Mandela, a South African anti-apartheid activist, had also been accused of the same crime.
After this hearing, the high court began hearing the habeas corpus case submitted by the PTI leader’s cousin. After hearing the argument, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh of the LHC ordered the police to bring the detainee into court by 1:30 p.m.
The Additional Advocate General (AAG), Jawwad Yaqoob, emerged when the judge resumed the hearing at 2 p.m. and said he was unable to determine whether Fawad Chaudhry was still in the city or had been taken to Islamabad. Justice Sheikh was alarmed by the law officer’s position and ordered him to return the PTI leader if he had been sent to Islamabad.
The law officer left the court for a 30-minute break before returning and stating that the PTI leader was not in the custody of the Punjab police but was instead detained by Islamabad police in connection with a case brought against him in the federal capital. The hearing was postponed till 6 o’clock by Justice Sheikh, who also called the Punjab and Islamabad police chiefs to appear. Dr. Usman Anwar, the Punjab IG, stated that Mr. Fawad Chaudhry had been detained by Islamabad police upon his appearance before the court. The IGP claimed that because he was in Rahim Yar Khan performing official business and the cellular network there was subpar, he was unable to reach the Islamabad IG.
Since the politician had been detained by the police in connection with an active case against him, the judge inquired of the petitioner’s attorney what relief he sought from the court in light of the Punjab IGP’s remarks.
On behalf of the petitioner, attorney Ahmad Pansota said that Fawad Chaudhry was taken into custody in Lahore at 5:30 am on Wednesday after the police filed an FIR against him at 10 pm on Tuesday. He claimed that police officers driving unregistered cars conducted a raid on the PTI leader’s home. He requested that the court drop the FIR and criticized the police’s bona fide motives. However, Justice Sheikh pointed out that if an accused detainee’s legal arrest was established, a habeas corpus petition would be infructuous, and he advised them to seek help from the Islamabad High Court instead.
Read More: Government stance over Fawad Chaudhry arrest
“On par with kidnapping”
Hiba Fawad spoke at a press conference alongside PTI leaders in response to her husband’s arrest, claiming that it was “equivalent to kidnapping” how he was taken into custody. She pleaded with the chief justice, prime minister, and chief minister to act to secure the early release of her husband, claiming that the family had been living in fear for about two hours since the former minister’s arrest.
She claimed that around 5:45 am, roughly a dozen people broke into the home and loaded Mr. Chaudhry into an SUV. She offered to provide video evidence to support her statements.
“There was a legal method to do it,” she said, “if they had to take Fawad Chaudhry into jail.” “But no one bothered to tell the family why he was being taken into custody, which agency was taking him, and why he was being detained.” “The media released the details of the FIR filed at the Kohsar Police Station in Islamabad, but I was kept in the dark for at least two hours about my husband’s whereabouts. The manner in which Fawad was abducted was inappropriate and unacceptable, she claimed.
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