Islamabad court sends Fawad Chaudhry to Adiala jail on judicial remand in sedition case

Islamabad court sends Fawad Chaudhry to Adiala jail on judicial remand in sedition case


Islamabad court sends Fawad Chaudhry to Adiala jail on judicial remand in sedition case

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – A judge in the federal capital on Friday turned down a plea for extension in physical remand of PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry in a sedition case. 

Judicial Magistrate Waqas Ahmed Raja has sent the former information minister to the Adiala Jail on 14-day judicial remand. The judge announced the verdict after hearing arguments from Fawad’s lawyer Babar Awan and the counsel for the Election Commission of Pakistan. 

The PTI bigwig was produced before the court of the judicial magistrate in handcuffs after his two-day remand ended on Friday in the case filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for threatening the officers of the electoral body in a speech. During the hearing, the prosecutor pleaded the court to extend physical remand of the PTI leader as the investigation team needed more time to complete the probe. Reading out the content of the FIR, he said the former minister attempted to incite violence against ECP officials and their families.

He said voice-matching test of the suspect had been completed while there was a need to take him to Lahore for photogrammetric test. He also sought permission to search the house of Imran Khan’s aide to recover laptop and mobile phone. He said the role of the electoral body was crucial in the coming months due to elections but Mr Chaudhry was trying to put pressure on the ECP. 

Fawad Chaudhry’s lawyer Babar Awan expressed reservations over treatment meted out to his client, stating that the PTI leader was treated as a “terrorist”. He said the statement of Mr Chaudhry was reflection of public opinion against the ECP. He also requested the court to discharge his client’s name from the case. 

On Wednesday, Duty Magistrate Naveed Khan handed over the PTI stalwart in the custody of Islamabad police on two-day physical remand after he was arrested from his residence in Lahore in a case filed over hurling threats at officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan and their families. The investigating officer had sought eight-day physical remand of the former minister but the request was rejected. 

At the outset of the hearing, PTI’s lawyers requested the court to remove the handcuffs of Fawad Chaudhary. Mr Chaudhary asked the court to tell the Islamabad police not to do this as there are 1,500 policemen outside and he is handcuffed, adding, "I am a lawyer of the Supreme Court and I want to talk to my family for five minutes and lawyers for five minutes." 

"It is unfortunate that we are taking revenge against each other in politics," he said. Fawad requested that the case against him be dismissed, arguing that if the case continued, free speech would end in the country.

The counsel for the ECP, Saad Hassan, read out the text of the FIR. In his arguments and said the ECP was a constitutional institution and it has all the right to hold elections. He said the commission was being targeted under a well-thought-out plan, and the accused tried to provoke the citizens. The purpose of his speech was to provoke people, he said. 

Saad Hassan told the court that Fawad targeted the families of the ECP members, adding that the PTI leader was promoting hatred against the institution. He went on to say that the people behind the speech also needed to be identified, adding that there was sufficient evidence in the media against the PTI leader. 

The ECP lawyer further added that the charges of sedition were also included in the FIR. He said the members of the Commission were being threatened, the accused had been remanded and further investigation needed to be done.

Read MoreTension mounts as Farrukh Habib tries to block police bid to shift Fawad to Islamabad 

Mr Chaudhry said: "I am grateful that they have included sedition charges in the case against me, putting me in the ranks of great leaders like Nelson Mandela and Abul Kalam Azad." He added that the case against him should be dismissed, arguing that if the case continued, free speech would end in the country. 

The PTI leader further said there shouldn’t be any case against him; in this way, democracy would end and no one wiould be able to criticise. "I never gave a speech but was addressing media during which I was misquoted." "I am the spokesperson for the PTI, and whatever I say is party’s policy. It is not necessary that what I say is my own personal opinion," he argued. 

Lawyers Ali Bukhari and Qaiser Imam, representing Fawad, also presented their arguments in court. Mr Bukhari argued that the FIR against Fawad should have been registered in Lahore, stating that, according to the law, a case must be registered where the alleged crime took place. 

On the other hand, Mr Imam questioned the applicability of the charges and whether a case could be registered at someone s request. He also stated that the remarks made by the PTI leader were not within the jurisdiction of the Kohsar police station as they were not made in Islamabad.

After hearing the arguments, the judge approved the two-day physical remand.