The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday reserved its judgment in a plea seeking Shahbaz Gill’s medical examination, while a sessions court in the federal capital ordered the concerned authorities to conduct a second medical examination of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) where he is to be kept till Monday.
The sessions court heard a petition filed by the police requesting the PTI leader’s physical remand in Islamabad today and ordered that he be kept at PIMS and a second medical examination be conducted.
Additional Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry had given the Islamabad police a 48-hour physical remand of Gill on Wednesday. The police has now sought an additional eight-day remand.
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It may be noted that at Adiala jail, Gill had complained that his health had deteriorated due to torture. He underwent a medical examination at the PIMS Hospital, for which a board comprising five doctors was formed. Gill had been shifted to a ward by ambulance.
As he was presented in court today, Gill began shouting that police had taken away his oxygen mask and pleaded that he be given one. “They have been giving me these injections till 2am; I am asthmatic I need oxygen badly,” he PTI lawyer Faisal Chaudhry opposed the request for physical remand and said that Gill’s life is in danger if physical remand is given.
Special Public Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi argued in support of physical remand plea saying that “the accused’s health is not an issue, the investigating officer can conduct emergency medical examination even without a court order”.
“It is not written anywhere that physical remand is not given if someone is sick,” he added.
On the contrary, he highlighted that “even if the court grants physical remand, it is the responsibility of the investigating officer to take care of the health of the accused”.
The lawyer also said that “the jail doctor has told that when the accused came to us, he had no problem and the report was normal”.
While Gill claimed foul play on the police’s part, the capital police accused him of trying to circumvent the probe against him by feigning.
IHC reserves judgment on maintainability of medical board plea
Meanwhile, Justice Mian Gul Hassan Aurangzeb was hearing a petition filed by former ruling party leaders Asad Umer and Babar Awan in the IHC against Gill’s alleged torture requesting the formation of “a medical board consisting of impartial doctors for medical examination”.
Citing media reports of Gill’s physical abuse in police custody, the PTI leaders had requested that the police be “prevented from taking a confession through pressurising” him.
The petition had also claimed that the “sole purpose” of keeping Gill in police custody was to “torture” him and claimed that his physical and mental condition was “not good; which is a threat to his life”.
During the proceedings today, Justice Aurangzeb inquired that “when a medical report exists, then isn’t there a medical board in place?”
“We are requesting an impartial medical board,” Babar Awan replied claiming that “the doctors who are present in the medical board are not experts in some diseases”.
“It may be any doctor but a private medical board should be formed with doctors from all four provinces,” he added.
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“Would it not be better to leave this matter to the home secretary?” responded the judge.
Babar Awan in response clarified that the request was for a board consisting of “unbiased private doctors and not government doctors”. He further implored the court to “ensure the protection of Shahbaz Gill’s life and fundamental rights”.
“When Shahbaz Gill was presented before the magistrate after his arrest, there were signs of torture. Shahbaz Gill showed the signs of police torture to the judicial magistrate and the magistrate granted judicial remand after two days of physical remand,” argued Awan.
He also told the court that later an appeal was filed by the federal government to review the magistrate’s decision which was rejected. The federal government then approached the IHC whereby police were granted another two days’ physical remand of Gill.
Justice Aurangzeb then inquired how the current medical board was formed to which Awan responded by saying that it was “created under the direction of a female judge” of the lower court who had granted Gill’s remand.
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“I will pass an order on this,” the judge remarked.
“Even if it is a case of high treason, torture or beating on specific parts is not allowed,” Awan stated.
Awan also said that the constitution and fundamental rights posit that “you cannot touch anyone whatever the case [against the accused] may be”.
“A university professor is being tortured into confessing on whose request he committed the crime,” he continued.
After the arguments were completed the court ordered a second medical examination to be conducted, remarking that “Shahbaz Gill is a patient of asthma, he should be testedimplored.