IHC allows Gill’s lawyers to meet him

ISLAMABAD (Agencies): The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday allowed embattled PTI leader Shahbaz Gill’s lawyers to meet him, and sought a report from the Islamabad police chief over reports of alleged torture on him while in custody.
IHC Acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq took up Gill’s plea against his physical remand and ordered authorities to allow Gill’s counsels to hold a meeting with their client at the hospital he is undergoing treatment at. As the IHC hearing into PTI’s plea against Gill’s physical remand resumed today, the police’s alleged mistreatment of him was at the centre of proceedings.
The Islamabad advocate general, additional attorney general and top police officials were summoned to the court, where the prosecutor insisted the firebrand party leader was not tortured. According to the court order, the judge ordered the report to be submitted on August 22 (Monday). The order said that the place of Gill’s confinement should be informed to his friends and he himself should also be informed about his right to a counsel’s assistance and communication with friends and family.
Furthermore, the court order said that Adiala jail officials did not give a “satisfactory” explanation regarding the delay in Gill being handed over to the Islamabad police and were ordered to submit a written explanation, along with the relevant record, before the next hearing. A day earlier, a judicial magistrate had granted Islamabad police two-day physical remand of Gill and ordered officials to conduct a medical examination. However, the PTI leader, who was booked in a sedition case, was being held at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, which falls within the jurisdiction of the Punjab government where the party is in power along with PML-Q.
In a bid to thwart the handover, arrangements were made to move Gill to Raw­a­l­pindi District Head­quarters (DHQ) Hospital after he complained of breathing difficulties. A standoff ensued but the Islamabad police finally managed to get Gill’s custody and moved him to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on Wednesday night.
The PTI has claimed that Gill has been tortured during his incarceration. The party has also alleged that the PTI leader is being coerced into making a statement against party chief Imran Khan. Gill’s lawyers Faisal Chaudhry and Shoaib Shaheen represented him in the hearing today. Additional sessions judge (east), the Islamabad inspector general of police, SSP investigation, SHO Kohsar, City Magistrate Ghulam Mustafa Chandio and the state were made respondents in the petition.
During the hearing, Gill’s lawyer Shaheen contended that the additional sessions judge did not follow the “guidelines” provided within the law. I have come to know that Gill has been admitted to Pims. The Adiala Jail superintendent has been summoned so that we can verify the facts, Justice Farooq said. At one point, Shaheen contended that they were not being allowed to meet Gill. The judge responded that this matter would also be discussed when the officials appear. The hearing was subsequently adjourned till 3pm. When the hearing resumed, the Islamabad advocate general told the court that Gill refused to cooperate when a medical board team visited him for an examination. Justice Farooq said the police’s reputation was being hurt because of the widespread reports of the PTI leader’s torture.
“We want to determine whether Shahbaz Gill was tortured or not,” the judge remarked. Prosecutor Rizwan Abbasi insisted that the PTI leader was not tortured, saying he was taken into custody on Aug 9 and his medical check-up was conducted on Aug 11. “Did Gill make any statement about his torture before the court?” Justice Farooq asked. Gill’s counsel Faisal Chaudhry said he was denied access to his client at the Pims hospital. “Meeting is not allowed during a remand period,” Justice Farooq responded.
The judge asked the IG Islamabad to tell the court what should be done. To which, Gill’s other counsel Shoaib Shaheen said his team did not trust the Islamabad IG. Justice Farooq resented the remarks made by Shaheen, saying: “Stop interrupting. Let me run the proceedings.” The court also expressed annoyance at Adiala Jail’s medical officer for lacking records of the health of the detained leader.