ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to defer the filing of a complaint against an Islamabad additional district and sessions judge for allegedly giving a biased judgement in a matter relating to the detention of media personality Mohsin Jamil Baig on the complaint of federal Communications Minister Murad Saeed.
Mr Baig was arrested earlier this week in a raid conducted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on a complaint filed by Mr Saeed.
The judge declared the raid on Mr Baig’s house “illegal” and asked Islamabad’s inspector general of police to take action against the station house officer of Margalla police station, adding that an FIR should be lodged if any application was submitted by a family member of Mr Baig.
A senior government official privy to developments confirmed that filing of the complaint against the judge had been deferred.
He said that since the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had taken cognisance of the cases registered against Mr Baig and the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) had also extended his physical remand, the government would prefer to see the outcome of those proceedings.
The Islamabad Bar Association (IBA), meanwhile, issued a statement on Friday, asking the authorities to refrain from taking action against the judge.
It stated that the judge had authored the order in accordance with the law. “Is the judge supposed to pass orders according to the whims of the government?”
During the hearing, the IHC chief justice directed the deputy commissioner of Islamabad to visit the lock-up to ascertain the veracity of allegations of torture of Mr Baig. Chief Justice Athar Minallah also sought a report from the inspector general of Islamabad in this regard.
Mr Baig’s wife and the Journalists Defence Committee of the Pakistan Bar Council had challenged the FIRs registered by the Cyber Crimes Wing and the Margalla police station under sections of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) and Anti-Terrorism Act, respectively.
During the hearing, Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, the counsel for Mr Baig’s spouse, contended that the petitioner had been denied access to a lawyer of choice. He also alleged that the petitioner’s husband was manhandled and physically harmed while he was in custody of the Margalla police station.
“It is noted that no accused, regardless of the gravity of the alleged offence, can be treated otherwise than in accordance with law, let alone being subjected to physical harm. Arrest of an accused in a criminal case merely deprives the latter from enjoying the right to freedom of movement guaranteed under Article 15 of the Constitution,” the order said. Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned till Feb 21.
ATC extends Mohsin’s physical remand
The Islamabad anti-terrorism court on Friday granted an extension of another three days in the physical remand of senior journalist Mohsin Baig. The court ordered the journalist to appear before the court on Feb 21. However, it sent two employees of Mr Baig to jail on judicial remand.
A petition has also been filed in the ATC for obtaining Mr Baig’s medical report. The petition was filed by the journalist’s lawyer Latif Khosa.
The petition stated that Mr Baig was patient of diabetes and was also suffering from other diseases. He was subjected to the worst torture by the FIA and the investigation agency and police conducted his medical checkup from the PIMS and Poly Clinic hospitals, it further stated.
While talking to media, Mr Baig said that Imran Khan’s days of humiliation were quite near. “Imran will be in the same lock-up in which I have been put,” he said adding that he would keep on fighting till this fascist regime was gone.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court has ordered Islamabad IG Police to submit a report regarding torture on senior journalist Mohsin Baig during police custody on Feb 21.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard petitions filed by the wife of Mohsin Baig seeking quashing of cases against the journalist on Friday. Petitioner’s counsel Sardar Latif Khosa said that it was deplorable that even Prime Minister Imran Khan had been involved in this affair.
While addressing the counsel, CJ Minallah remarked that he had filed a plea to dismiss the FIR. “But nobody else except the accused could file a plea requesting quashing of the case. You can amend your plea. This request cannot be entertained on behalf of third person. We are not even sure whether the accused himself wants quashing of the case,” he added.
Khosa informed the court that yesterday he was not allowed to meet Mohsin Baig. He said that his client was subjected to severe torture in the police station. When the court sent the bailiff, he wasn’t allowed to enter the police station, he added.
A court in Islamabad Wednesday declared Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) raid at journalist Mohsin Baig’s residence illegal, hours after he had been arrested.
“…illegal raid was conducted at the house of [Baig] by irrelevant persons who were not authorised to do so,” Additional Sessions Judge Islamabad West Zafar Iqbal said in the judgement of a petition filed against the journalist’s arrest.
In the five-page judgement, the additional sessions judge noted that the first information report (FIR) against Baig was lodged at an FIA cybercrime reporting centre of the agency in Lahore on behalf of federal minister Murad Saeed.
Earlier in the day, Islamabad police arrested a former senator and analyst from outside his residence hours after he along with his son attacked and held an unarmed raiding Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team at gunpoint, the agency said.
In a press statement, the agency said personnel from its cybercrime wing raided the house of Mohsin Baig after securing a search and seizure warrant from the relevant court.
But as soon as the team reached his residence, Baig, his son and staff opened fire at the team and made two officials hostage.
The agency said Baig was arrested after he ran out of bullets and was taken to Margalla police station where legal proceedings against him were underway.
Baig’s family told reporters that police and officials from the agency raided his house in the morning and took him away “without giving any reason” for the arrest.
But the footage making rounds on social media show the suspects, all armed to the teeth, taking the team hostage and firing multiple rounds in the air.
It also shows Baig hitting one of the officials in the head with his handgun. The official was shifted to a nearby for treatment.
The FIA conducted the raid on the complaint of Minister for Communications Murad Saeed, who registered a first information report (FIR) against Baig at a cybercrime reporting centre of the agency in Lahore, accusing the former senator of “character assassination” by using “immoral and abusive language”.
Baig had just days earlier suggested on a chat show that Prime Minister Imran Khan had “shown favouritism” by granting an award to a minister.
Khan had ranked Saeed as the top performer among his Cabinet. Baig, when asked by the anchor to comment on the move, responded he didn’t know but the reason was “written in [Khan’s former spouse] Reham Khan’s book”.
The complaint was registered under Sections 20 (offences against the dignity of a natural person), 21-D (offences against modesty of a natural person and minor) and 24 (cyberstalking) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016 read with Sections 500 (defaming army officers) and 555 (statement conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
The programme had attracted a flurry of criticism from the government and NewsOne, the channel that aired the show, was temporarily taken off air by cable networks.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) also issued a show-cause notice to the channel for airing “unethical” comments about a minister.
Spouse challenges terrorism case in IHC
Meanwhile, Mohsin Baig’s wife challenged the terrorism case against him on Thursday in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). His wife petitioned for the dismissal of the terrorism case, stating that the police had registered a false and baseless case against him in the Margalla police station and that the court should order the police to dismiss the case.
A day earlier, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had arrested Baig, after a large contingent of police raided his house in the morning for criticising Communications Minister Murad Saeed.
The FIA had registered a case against Baig at Saeed’s request, days after the former made an unethical and disparaging remark against the latter during a private TV channel programme. The panellists were discussing Murad’s ministry receiving a top performance award by Prime Minister Imran Khan recently.
The programme received heavy criticism from the government quarters, and the channel was also served a show-cause notice by the media regulator.
During the raid, the FIA officials said, Baig, his sons and servants opened straight fire on the FIA team and held two officers hostage and tortured them. Baig committed a crime by firing on government employees along with his sons and servants, they said.
The officials added that Baig was taken to Margalla police station where the Islamabad police were taking further action. Baig’s son was also named in the case registered against him at the Margalla police station.
The FIA said that a case was registered against Baig under Sections 20 (offences against the dignity of a natural person), 21-D (offences against modesty of a person and minor) and 24 (cyber stalking) of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 read with Sections 500 (defaming army officers) and 555 (statement conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Baig’s spokesperson said that the FIA had no arrest warrant for his arrest and that no case was registered against him. According to the spokesperson, Baig was beaten during the operation while his family members were harassed.
Initially, there was no statement from the FIA. However, the agency said in the afternoon that its Cyber Crime Wing Lahore had filed a case against Baig at the request of Federal Minister Murad Saeed and raided Baig’s house in F-8 after obtaining warrant from a court.