ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday issued notices to Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shahbaz Gill in government’s petition challenging rejection of its request seeking his physical remand in the sedition case against him.

A single bench of IHC comprising Acting Chief Justice of IHC Justice Aamer Farooq conducted hearing of the petition filed through Advocate General Islamabad Jahangir Jadoon and sought physical custody of the PTI leader to collect additional evidence in the case and acquire the names of those allegedly behind the offense.

During the hearing, Justice Aamer Farooq asked that why the authorities were seeking PTI leader Shahbaz Gill’s physical custody. He said that you are saying that an extension in the suspect’s physical remand is necessary and questioned that what will you do after getting the extension?

Jadoon told the judge about the lower courts’ decisions regarding the PTI leader’s physical remand. He added that the government had taken serious notice of Gill’s comments on television that targeted the country’s institutions and registered a case against him. He further said that his remarks were against institutions that have given many sacrifices for the country.

However, Justice mentioned the expiry of Gill’s physical remand and said that the subsequent rejection of an appeal against the decision not to extend the remand was a “reality”. The judge observed that one fact is that your [AGI] request for revision was dismissed and the other is that the physical remand has expired. He then sought arguments on the maintainability of the review petition.

Advocate Raja Rizwan Abbasi referred to the decisions of various courts in his arguments as he made a case for the maintainability of the petition against the judicial magistrate’s decision.

At this, the court asked that are you saying that further physical remand of the accused is necessary? The AG Islamabad said that laptop and various other devices have not yet been found and they are to be recovered from Gill.

Besides Abbasi and Jadoon, the case’s investigating officer and special prosecutor Haseeb Chaudhry also appeared before the court in this matter.

Later, the court issued notices to Gill seeking reply from him and deferred the proceedings till today (Tuesday).

Court hears govt’s petition challenging rejection of request seeking PTI leader’s physical remand

In the petition, the prosecution cited Shahbaz Gill, the sessions judge, Islamabad and the judicial magistrate as respondents. The government adopted the stance in the petition that the investigation was incomplete and Judicial Magistrate Umar Shabbir granted judicial remand and rejected an extension of Gill’s physical remand which has resulted in the prosecution case being subjected to “serious prejudice.”

The petition said that the sessions judge’s order was “perverse and without jurisdiction” since Shabbir passed a judicial order, instead of an administrative order and thus had the power to exercise his revision jurisdiction if any illegality came to the court’s knowledge.

Jadoon argued that the judicial magistrate did not take into account that “valuable evidence will not be collected” unless Gill cooperated with the investigation and the police had yet to recover his cell phone and the data from it.

He said that Gill’s physical custody was also required to obtain information about other suspects in the case. Jadoon argued that the judicial magistrate had not realised the “gravity of the offence” and sent Gill to judicial custody without considering the police’s request for his physical remand on merit.

The petition said the orders of the two judges were “capricious, perverse and against the provision of applicable law”, and if it was not accepted for hearing, then the state institution would face “irreparable loss” and Gill would be “acquitted”.

It requested physical custody of the accused, arguing that the “police has yet to recover the mobile phone of the accused containing necessary information/date to corroborate the contents of FIR as a piece of evidence.”

It requested the IHC to set aside the orders of the two judges, grant Gill’s physical custody to the investigating agency for the collection of further evidence and declare that the judicial magistrate’s verdict was a judicial order and open to revision by the sessions judge and the IHC.

Meanwhile, Shahbaz Gill also filed a petition before the IHC against the sedition case registered against him by terming it as ‘malicious’ and requested the court to quash the said FIR.

In the petition, Gill stated that “malicious” case against him was filed by the police to show their “loyalty” to the incumbent government. He further stated that the case was filed only to “satisfy the political agenda of the government”.

The petitioner said that there is no option but to knock on the door of the high court to seek refuge from oppression. He said that the court should accept the petition for dismissing the case and declare the first information report (FIR) against him as null and void.