High courts don’t grant physical remand, however serious a matter can be
Zubair Qureshi Islamabad
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday referred a plea seeking PTI leader Shahbaz Gill’s physical remand in a sedition case to a sessions court for hearing, declaring the petition to be admissible.
A district and sessions court had rejected a police request to extend Gill’s two-day physical remand and an additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) had dismissed a plea seeking a review of the district court’s order.
Later, a plea challenging these orders was filed by Islamabad Advocate General Jahangir Khan Jadoon in the high court on Saturday last week.
The state counsel on behalf of the government maintained in the plea that the physical remand of Gill — who is currently in judicial custody on charges of sedition and inciting mutiny in the armed forces following his controversial remarks during an ARY News bulletin — was important for the completion of the case’s investigation.
The acting IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq took up Jadoon’s plea Tuesday, and made its hearing conditional on parties establishing that the review plea rejected by the ADSJ was maintainable in a sessions court.
“If the plea is maintainable in a sessions court, I will then hear arguments on the case’s merits,” he said, adding that if the petition was not maintainable, there was no need for any further proceedings on the matter.
Justice Farooq then reserved the verdict on the plea and later issued directives for the sessions court to hear it and decide the matter on the basis of merit.
He also directed the sessions judge to hear the petition the same day. At the outset of the hearing, Justice Farooq stopped Gill’s lawyers from speaking about political matters after they made some political references.
“Make legal, not political arguments in this case,” he told the lawyers. While the judge acknowledged that the case concerned a politician, he said the identity of the suspect was “meaningless” to the court. The court is only concerned with legal matters, he said.
Justice Farooq then sought arguments on the maintainability of the review petition that was earlier rejected by the ADSJ.
The matter ends when the suspect is remanded in judicial custody,” the court observed, adding that sending a suspect on physical remand in police custody was a “serious matter”.
The judge said the session’s court was to determine whether the judicial magistrate’s order to reject the police request for an extension in Gill’s physical remand was right.
“I am not going into the case’s merit at the moment. I will first hear arguments on the [review] petition’s maintainability,” he said.
When Gill’s lawyer pointed out that the authorities had filed a petition for Gill’s physical remand in the IHC as well, Justice Farooq observed that high courts did not grant remands.
“It is not the high court’s jurisdiction to see for how long a suspect has to be remanded. No matter how serious the offence is, it is the judicial magistrate who decides about remands,” he remarked.
Justice Farooq also heard a plea seeking the quashing of the first information report (FIR) against Gill in connection with his remarks during the ARY News bulletin.