ISLAMABAD/LAHORE – Police in Lahore arrested Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Fawad Chaudhry on early Wednesday in a sedition case registered against him with the Islamabad Police on the complaint of Secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan Umar Hameed. According to the FIR, the complaint invokes sections 153-A (promotion of enmity between groups), 506 (criminal intimidation), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 124-A (sedition) of the Pakistan Penal Code. It stated that Fawad, in a speech outside PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s house, threatened the ECP and said that those who become part of the caretaker government in Punjab will be pursued until they are punished. In a tweet, the Islamabad Police also said that Fawad tried to incite violence against a constitutional institution and inflame the sentiments of the people.
It stated that proceedings would be made as per law in the case. The arrest of Fawad Chaudhry, a senior opposition leader, is said be a major setback for the party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, in which he serves as vice president. PTI leaders quickly condemned the arrest and demanded his release.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan also denounced the arrest, claiming on Twitter that it left no doubt that Pakistan has become a place “devoid of rule of law.” He urged followers to “stand up for our fundamental rights” to prevent the country from drifting toward “a point of no return.” ‘Medical exaMination’ A local court in Lahore Wednesday granted transit remand of Fawad Chaudhry for producing him before Islamabad court in connection with the case.
Earlier, Islamabad’s Kohsar police had produced the PTI leader before Judicial Magistrate Rana Mudassar after arresting him in the early hours of Wednesday morning from outside his residence in a case registered on the complaint of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Umar Hameed for “inciting violence against a constitutional institution.”
The police requested the court to grant transit remand of the PTI leader for producing him before court concerned in Islamabad. However, Fawad’s counsel opposed the plea for transit remand and submitted that Islamabad was just at a distance of four-hour drive and no transit remand was required. He submitted that police could directly take his client to Islamabad and produce him in the court concerned. The counsel further submitted that a petition had been filed before the Lahore High Court against illegal detention of his client.
He requested the court to adjourn the hearing until the LHC decides the petition. At this stage, the court adjourned further hearing for some time. Later, the court allowed the plea for transit remand and also ordered to carry out medical examination of the PTI leader before shifting him to Islamabad. ‘arrest not illegal’ The Lahore High Court (LHC) Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking to declare the arrest of Fawad Chaudhry as illegal. The court directed the former minister to approach the relevant forum for having the case against him dismissed. Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh told Fawad’s counsel that his client’s arrest was not “illegal” as the police had followed the rules and procedures required for detaining the former minister. The LHC had ordered authorities to present Fawad before it in response to a petition filed by Fawad’s cousin, Nabeel Shehzad, for the “recovery” of the former federal minister.
The petitioner had filed a habeas corpus plea and urged the court to “recover” the PTI leader after the Islamabad police acquired his transitory remand. He also appealed to the court to stop any illegal action against the PTI leader.
Justice Sheikh, while hearing the plea, had ordered the authorities to present the PTI leader before the court by 1:30pm. The time was later extended to 2pm, but the authorities failed to produce Fawad before LHC. Then, the court again told the authorities to produce Fawad at 6pm, but they failed to follow the orders. Interestingly, the orders were issued after a local court of Lahore had approved Fawad’s transitory remand in a sedition case filed against him in Islamabad on the election commission’s complaint.