ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court on Monday indicted former Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) senator Faisal Raza Abidi in a defamation case pertaining to anti-judiciary remarks.
As ATC judge Shahrukh Arjumand heard the case, the accused pleaded not guilty.
Abidi’s counsel pleaded with the court that his client is sick and needs to be shifted to a hospital from jail. The court ordered a medical checkup for a second time and reserved its judgement till the reports are received. Earlier, the court had rejected Abidi’s post-arrest bail plea filed over health grounds.
The court summoned ASI Abbasi, police officer Shabbir Tanoli and citizen Raja Ayaz Abbasi to appear before the court as witnesses in the next hearing. The hearing was then adjourned till January 3.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had booked Abidi under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016.
In October, he was arrested by officials of Secretariat Police Station outside the Supreme Court, where he appeared for a hearing of a suo motu case regarding anti-judiciary remarks made by him in an interview that was aired on a local news channel.
An FIR [First Information Report] was registered against Abidi in the Secretariat Police Station under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). It also includes sections 500 (punishment for defamation), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), 505 (II) (statements conducing to public mischief), 228 (intentional insult or interruption to public servant sitting in judicial proceeding), 121 (waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against the state) and 109 (punishment of abetment if act abetted in consequence and where no express provision is made for its punishment) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The FIR alleges Abidi of using “highly insulting and inappropriate language” against the chief justice and the judiciary in the TV interview. It also accuses him of “undermining the honour of the chief justice [and] inciting the public”. The FIR does not specify the programme it is referring to.
This is the third case that has been registered against Abidi for defamation of judiciary and usage of threatening language.
The former senator first came under heat after a video of his interview went viral on social media, in which his language was deemed abusive, contemptuous and threatening in an FIR that was registered earlier. He was also accused of levelling allegations against government institutions which have been created via the constitution. He also levelled accusations against individuals holding the highest constitutional posts, the FIR said.
Another case was registered against Abidi with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 for his remarks in another programme titled Subah Subah Naya Pakistan aired on web channel Naya Pakistan on July 2.
It says that during the course of his appearance on the show, the accused, with criminal intent and ulterior motives and without any lawful justification used sarcastic, derogatory, disrespectful and defamatory language against the chief justice etc. which it says is tantamount to creating a sense of fear, panic and insecurity among the government, general public and society.
It says that Abidi is prima facie guilty of offences punishable under sections 10(a), 11 and 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016 read with sections 109 and 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The case was later transferred to a cybercrime court of FIA.