ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday declared government’s petition challenging rejection of its request seeking further physical remand of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shahbaz Gill in the sedition case as admissible and referred the matter to sessions court directing it to decide the petition on merit.

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 offence. After hearing the arguments of both the sides, the IHC bench referred the petition seeking Gill’s physical remand in the case to a sessions court and directed to hear the case again and decide the same on merit. It also said that the review plea of Advocate General Islamabad would be considered as pending before the sessions courts.

The AG Islamabad, Rizwan Abbasi Advocate and Haseeb Chaudhary represented the government before the bench while advocates Faisal Chaudhry and Shoaib Shaheen appeared before the court on behalf of Gill. During the hearing, Justice Aamer restrained the lawyers of both the sides from speaking about political matters after they made some political references and said that it had to view only legal points in the case. He remarked that the high court could not grant a physical remand as it was jurisdiction of the trial court.

He further said that the bench did not want to interfere in investigation process and suspend any order into the matter. Justice Aamer observed that this court was just viewing merits of the order of judicial magistrate and directed lawyers to give arguments on maintainability of the review petition. Gill’s lawyer Shoaib Shaheen adopted the stance that there was nothing in the script as per the sections applied in FIR. Later, Justice Farooq reserved the verdict on the plea and then issued directives for the sessions court to hear it and decide the matter on the basis of merit. He also directed the sessions judge to hear the petition on Tuesday. Separately, Justice Aamer also heard Shahbaz Gill’s petition against the sedition case registered against him by terming it as ‘malicious’ and requested the court to quash the said FIR. Giving his arguments in this matter, Gill’s lawyer Shoaib Shaheen maintained that the case against the PTI leader was based on “mala fide”. He argued that the approval for the charges under which Gill was booked had to be taken from the government but it was not taken.

A transcript of Gill’s remarks was also submitted to the court. At this, Gill’s lawyer contended that only a part of the PTI leader’s statement was referred to in the case and that the context of those remarks was not explained. He also mentioned the case filed against lawyer Imaan Mazari by the Pakistan Army for allegedly “abusing and defaming the senior command” of the institution. After hearing his arguments, the court issued notices to the respondents and deferred the hearing till next week.

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 added that the court should accept the petition for dismissing the case and declare the first information report (FIR) against him as null and void.