April 7th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha and Ahmed Saeed
Police have charged a woman with a terrorism offence after she allegedly abused and threw her purse at a civil judge in Rawalpindi.
The woman was arrested and sent on a 14-day judicial remand to Adiala Jail on 5th April. According to the first investigation report lodged with the Civil Lines police station, the woman, who claimed she was a complainant in a bounced cheque case, became infuriated upon knowing that the judge had granted bail to an accused in her case.
The woman began shouting and abusing the civil judge Sardar Omer Hasssan, Raja Kamran, the judge’s reader, told the police in his complaint.
Kamran said the woman threw court files and her purse at the judge in the courtroom, forcing the judge to move into his chamber for safety, adding that the ruckus halted court proceedings for about two hours. He claimed that the woman also abused and fought with women police constables called in to control her.
Civil Police officials told Voicepk.net that the woman was charged with offences under Section 353, 186 and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code as well Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. The sections deal with assault, obstruction and criminal intimation of public servants in discharge of their official duties.
Asked why the woman was charged with a terrorism offence, police officials said the charges in the FIR were based on the written application submitted by the judge’s reader.
However, Kamran Raza told Voicepk.net that the application did not mention any charges and the police have inserted the anti-terrorism offence on their own.
According to the opinion of senior lawyers, the police have acted beyond their powers by inserting the anti-terrorism offence in the said case.
Abid Saqi, former vice chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council, regretted that state institutions and public servants are prone to misuse of powers due to their colonial attitude. He said though what the woman did was not appreciable, police officials had overstepped their authority. “The woman in question allegedly committed contempt of court but that does not warrant slapping of a terrorism charge on her,” Saqi said.
Shabbir Hussain, a lawyer with the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid, said that the insertion of the terrorism offense in the FIR goes against the judgment of the Supreme Court about definition of terrorism and use of offences in the Anti-Terrrosim Act in October 2019.
“Now creating fear or insecurity in the society is not by itself terrorism unless the motive itself is to create fear or insecurity in the society and not when fear or insecurity is just a byproduct, a fall out or an unintended consequence of a private crime,” reads the judgment, authored by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.
Hussain said the incident did not fall under the offences defined under the Anti-Terrorism Act. “If that being the case, Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act would have to be applied in every case of contempt of court,” he adds.