February 22nd, 2022
A senior official of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was issued a show-cause notice on Monday by the Islamabad High Court over exceeding authority during a raid on media owner Mohsin Baig’s residence in Islamabad on February 16.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued notice to the FIA Cyber Crime Wing’s director operations on a petition by Baig’s wife for cancellation of the first information report against her husband. The federal agency raided Baig’s house on a defamation complaint lodged by Communications Minister Murad Saeed. Baig was subsequently arrested in another case lodged by Margala police for assaulting FIA officials in the raid.
The court summoned FIA Director Cyber Crime Wing Babar Bakht Qureshi, following which he appeared before the court, Dawn paper reported.
Grilling the FIA official, the chief justice him that the court had told the agency to not make arrests. “This court will take action against you. Your job is to protect people and not to restore the reputation of an elite person,” the IHC chief justice remarked.
The FIA director read out the contents of the FIR on the directions of the court. Justice Minallah asked Qureshi whether the complainant had himself shared a video of the TV programme.
“The FIA reserves the right to act against anyone under the law,” the Cyber Crime Wing director responded, to which the judge asked whether the FIA was above the law.
The court then asked the FIA director to read out comments made by Baig during the TV show and explain if there were any derogatory remarks.
Qureshi said the references from a book authored by Reham Khan, former wife of Prime Minister Imran Khan, were “defamatory”.
The court reiterated its objection and asked the FIA director whether the agency’s role was to ensure the protection of people or serve public officeholders.
Justice Minallah questioned the FIA official about the number of pending cases with the agency. In response, Qureshi said FIA had around 14,000 backlogs of cases.
“Have you made any arrests in these cases?” the judge questioned.
Qureshi sought the court’s permission to read section 21-D (offences against modesty of a natural person and minor) of the Pakistan Penal Code. The judge remarked that it would only invite more embarrassment to the agency and nothing else.
Justice Minallah sought a written response from the FIA director as to who had asked him to “do all this”. He remarked that political leadership and not the society was responsible for what had transpired in the case.
Meanwhile, Baig’s counsel, Latif Khosa, told the court the entire episode could have been avoided had the FIA not raided the residence “illegally”.
The chief justice responded: “If someone comes to my house and introduces himself as an FIA official, and asks me to come along, I will go with him.”
Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadood also informed the court that section 21 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) did not warrant action against Baig.
The IHC chief justice declared the plea filed by Baig seeking his release as “inadmissible” but said it would examine the actions taken by the FIA, while the acts committed by the suspect would be looked into by a trial court.
The court also summoned Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan in the next hearing on Feb 24.
Meanwhile, an anti-terrorism court extended the physical remand of Baig for another two days at the request of the Islamabad police.
Baig’s counsel Khosa opposed the police’s request for extension, saying the law enforcers had earlier misused the judicial remand approved by the court.
He also accused the police of not submitting medical reports of his client in the court. The court subsequently directed the complainant to submit an application in this regard, adding that the bench would look into it.
Once Baig’s counsel submitted the application, the court issued a summon to the medical superintendent of Islamabad’s Polyclinic and adjourned the hearing till Feb 23. Advocate General, Islamabad, Niazullah Niazi presented the report of torture on Mohsin Baig in the police station.