Islamabad court rejects Sheikh Rashid’s post-arrest bail plea

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ISLAMABAD: A court in Islamabad on Tuesday dismissed Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s post-arrest bail plea in the case registered against him for levelling murder plot allegations against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari.

The court had reserved its verdict in the case earlier today after hearing arguments of the prosecution and Rashid’s lawyers.

However, the court in its verdict allowed the AML chief to sign his nomination papers for the NA-60 and NA-62 by-polls.

Sheikh Rashid Shafiq, the former interior minister’s nephew, after the verdict was announced told the media that they would challenge the judgment in a sessions court.

Today’s hearing 

At the outset of the hearing, the court asked Rashid’s lawyer whether their stance was that their client was not part of the conspiracy claimed to kill Imran Khan.

Sardar Abdul Razzik, Rashid’s counsel, told the court that his client had referred to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairperson’s statement and was not part of the conspiracy.

The lawyer also contended that the first information report (FIR) of the case was registered two days before Rashid gave the statement.

“Even if a murder is committed right in front of the police, the case is not registered this quickly,” said the lawyer. He added that the law enforcement agency carried out the inquiry and registered the case.

“The police should have investigated Asif Ali Zardari but the opposite happened,” said the lawyer. He added that the PTI chair’s statement was based on facts.

“There is a conspiracy to kill Imran Khan for which a case is not being registered. However, a case has been registered for the defamation of Asif Zardari,” said the lawyer.

The counsel also contended that a notice was issued against his client on January 31 but it was never sent to him but was aired on television channels. He added that when the notice was suspended by the high court the next day a case was registered against Rashid.

Razzik also told the court that the case was registered on a private complainant’s request not a state officer.

“A common citizen, who is a PPP worker, had made allegations against Sheikh Rashid,” said Razzik. He added that the case would have been different had PPP Co-chairperson Asif Zardari filed the complaint.

The counsel said that Zardari could have sent defamation notice to the PTI chief for making the allegations. He added that his client had only stated that whatever Khan says is the truth.

The lawyer also contended that during his client’s physical remand the police were not able to find anything.

“Case against Sheikh Rashid was only registered to take political revenge,” Razzik told the court. He also claimed that during the search carried out by the police at his client’s home, they took Rs700,000 and valuable items.

The lawyer claimed that two bulletproof cars at his client’s home were also impounded.

“There is no need to investigate Sheikh Rashid. The bail plea should be approved. [The] high court in its verdict had also prohibited further action,” said Razzik as he wrapped up his argument.

Intizar Panjotha, Rashid’s other counsel, told the court that there was no political campaign or untoward incident over his client’s statement.

While urging the court to accept the bail plea, Panjotha also told the court that the sections added in the FIR against Rashid can only be included if a state officer is the complainant.

Once Rashid’s counsel wrapped up their arguments, the judge told the lawyers that their client gave a statement against Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah in a hospital and asked whether there was a chance of anarchy spreading in the country due to the statement.

At this, Rashid’s counsel told the court that the Islamabad High Court had suspended the application related to this, adding that the statement came during detention which is why it holds no importance.

Prosecution opposes bail

Meanwhile, the prosecutor contended that Rashid was committing an offence repeatedly with his statements during detention.

The lawyer contended that Rashid wanted collision between the PTI and PPP. He added that there was chance of anarchy spreading in the country with Rashid’s statement.

The prosecution also told the court that the high court in its order had only stopped the summoning of Rashid. He added that the former interior minister’s attitude during detention was also unusual.

“Sheikh Rashid was arrested with a lot difficulty. If he is granted bail, he will run away,” said the prosecutor as he opposed the bail plea.

The AML chief is currently in Adiala Jail on judicial remand for 14 days.

The cases

Initially, Rashid, according to the police, was arrested in the case of levelling allegations against Zardari.

Later, Muree Police also registered a case against him.

The FIR was lodged at the complaint of investigation officer Ashiq Ali, from the Aabpara police station, Islamabad. Rashid threatened the police personnel and stated that he would not spare them, according to the FIR.

The FIR was registered under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Pakistan, charging Rashid with interfering in official affairs and resisting his arrest. The FIR states that the former minister physically pushed and abused the police officers and threatened them with serious consequences at gunpoint.

Besides the former minister, his two employees have also been implicated in the case.

The FIR stated that when the police arrived at Rashid’s residence, he came out with his armed servants and resisted police efforts while threatening them. The minister was told that he was booked under three sections of the Pakistan Penal Code — 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), read the FIR.

After that, he started resisting and interfering in the official affairs of the police, while threatening them with serious consequences at gunpoint.

Abusing the policemen, Rashid said he had been a minister several times and that he would not spare them, read the FIR. Hence, he committed an offence under Section 506ii (threatening to cause death or grievous hurt], 353 [Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty] and 186 [Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions].

Use of ‘foul language’ against Bilawal

An FIR has also been registered against Rashid for using “filthy” language against Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto at the Mochko Police Station in Karachi. The case was filed under four sections of the PPC — including 500 (Punishment for defamation), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups).

According to the FIR, the AML chief used “highly offensive and disgusting” words against party chairman Bilawal during a media talk at the Polyclinic Hospital which led to anarchy among thousands of PPP workers.

“A large number of people took to the streets and I, along with other members including Pir Buksh, son of Ali Murad, Muhammad Bux, son of Mola Buksh, and others, tried hard to stop them,” added the FIR.

It also said that the AML chief deliberately conspired to subvert peace, tried to instigate conflict and bloodshed and attempted to spread disorder.

“Legal action should be taken against him (Sheikh Rashid),” it said.

In a similar case filed in Lasbela, Balochistan, Rashid was booked for using “filthy” language against Bilawal. The FIR includes five sections of the PPC, including 500 (punishment for defamation), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), and 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions).