Fawad Chaudhry remanded in 14-day judicial custody, sent to Adiala Jail

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An Islamabad district and sessions court on Friday sent PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry to Adiala jail on a 14-day judicial remand in a case over alleged incitement of violence against a constitutional institution.

The court on Wednesday night had granted police an initial two-day physical remand of Fawad, hours after he was arrested.

The former information minister was taken into custody after a first information report (FIR) against him was registered at Islamabad’s Kohsar police station by an official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for “threatening” the electoral body’s members and their families.

The ECP’s plea for an extension to Fawad’s physical remand was heard in the courtroom of Judge Raja Waqas Ahmed today.

At the onset of the hearing, the election commission’s lawyer Saad Hassan, the prosecutor in the case, informed the court that the PTI leader’s voice matching had been completed. He requested an extension in remand, saying that Fawad had to be taken to Lahore for a photogrammetric test.

The prosecutor contended before the court that the former federal minister was inciting hatred against a constitutional institution. “Fawad is trying to create unrest,” he said. “The statement threatens the lives of the election commission’s workers.”

The ECP lawyer argued that an extension to the PTI leader’s remand was imperative to carry out further investigation in the case. He cited the Shehbaz Gill case as an example.

“A day had already passed when the remand was approved at 12am,” the investigation officer said. “Technically [speaking] we just got his remand for a day and we want an extension to it.”

The ECP lawyer told the court that Fawad’s statement was available on record, adding that the PTI leader had also acknowledged his speech. “No one can object the speech. “The accused has accepted his statement.”

He added that the election commission’s employees were told that they do “the work of a clerk”. “We were threatened that they (PTI supporters) will reach our homes.”

At this, Fawad’s counsel Babar Awan accused the election commission of colluding with the government against PTI. “We are being blamed and pressured.”

The ECP lawyer responded that Fawad was a senior politician but “no one is above the law”. He told the court that it was mandatory to search the PTI leader’s home. “It is important to recover Fawad’s laptop and mobile phone in his presence”.

“Fawad’s statement is not one person’s statement but an entire group’s narrative,” the ECP lawyer said. “A campaign has not only been launched against the ECP but also the top officials of the election commission.”

Meanwhile, Awan questioned why Fawad’s face was covered by the police following his arrest. “Even Kulbushan Yadav’s face was not covered [after arrest] so why was Fawad’s face covered with a white cloth,” he said, adding that anti-terrorist force had been deployed around the PTI leader.

Awan said that the election commission’s secretary was a “servant of his political masters”, and wondered why the prosecution was irked by the use of the word “clerk”.

Awan disagreed with the need for a further remand of his client, saying: “The video of Fawad’s statement is available. What further investigation needs to be carried out?”

Following the conclusion of the arguments, the judge approved Fawad’s request to have his handcuffs removed inside the court and also reserved its verdict on the issue of remand extension.

Later, in its verdict, the court sent Fawad to judicial remand instead of physical remand.

Separately, a bail application was filed by Fawad on the argument that the case against him was based on “mala fide intention” and “ulterior motives”, and filed “only to harass, pressurise (sic) and blackmail” him.

It adds that the allegations leveled in the FIR were “absolutely false, frivolous and baseless”. “The petitioner was arrested illegally, unlawfully and without any justification in negation to the law and constitutional rights of the petitioner.”

However, Judge Ahmed refused to conduct the hearing of Fawad’s bail plea. “I do not have jurisdiction over the bail application,” he said, suggesting that it be referred to the relevant forum.

Subsequently, PTI leaders took the bail application to Judge Tahir Mehmood’s courtroom, who then relayed it to Additional Sessions Judge Faizan Haider Gillani. The hearing was adjourned till tomorrow.