An anti-terrorism court rejected on Saturday the bail plea of Dr Asim Hussain, a former federal minister who faces charges of providing medical treatment to terrorists and other criminals at the hospitals he owns.
An ATC judge has unbridled powers to reject the bail plea of any accused.
They can also reject the interim bail plea either granted by their own court or by an appellate court (high court) at any stage of the trial and in this case the court exercised its powers at a stage when the bail pleas of other co-accused in the case were also pending with it.
The court did not find the occasion proper to grant bail to Dr Hussain. It noted that almost all attorneys of the other accused had supported the bail plea of Dr Hussain and tendered arguments in his favour creating an impression that the former minister was actually involved in assisting criminals.
The co-accused including Waseem Akhtar, Rauf Siddiqui, Anees Qaimkhani and Qadir Patel, who are on interim bails by the same court, were present in the court.
The court has to decide their bail pleas as well. A leader of Pasban, Usman Moazzam, is also being tried in the case and the court has to decide his bail plea as well. The court adjourned the hearing till July 19 when it will announce its ruling on the bail pleas of the other accused.
Dr Hussain, who appeared dejected, told reporters outside the courtroom that he was shocked to hear that an order had been passed on his bail application only while the court had not announced its ruling on those of the other accused.
He said he was being treated differently. He added that cases were being made on the basis of a joint investigation team report.
He advised his lawyers to collect the copy of the order without further delay so the matter could be contested in the Sindh High Court.
The ATC-II had reserved its ruling on the bail plea of Dr Asim Hussain on June 4. The attorneys were expecting the ruling on the bail application filed on behalf of Usman Moazzam but the court adjourned the hearing till July 19 and added that it would give its ruling on other bail pleas on the next hearing.
Dr Asim Hussain and Usman Moazzam both face similar charges and are in detention on judicial remand.
In a recent video, Dr Hussain accused former president Asif Ali Zardari’s foster brother Owais Muzaffar alias Tappi of being involved in “all kinds of corruption” during Pakistan Peoples Party’s current tenure in Sindh.
PPP leaders have strongly rejected the allegations saying Dr Hussain was forced to do so under duress.
The 80-second long clip, apparently cut out from a longer video, went viral on social media and was screened on several TV channels
Dr Hussain was remanded to the police after a detention of 90 days after an administrative judge of the ATCs had assigned ATC-II to conduct the trail against him and others. The administrative judge had rejected the stance of the then investigation officer that no proof was found against Dr Hussain.
The National Accountability Bureau had formally arrested the former federal minister after he was cleared by a investigation officer before the administrative judge. He had kept under detention by the Rangers for three months till November 26 and later was remanded to the police for further interrogation. He was arrested in August 2015 by Rangers.
A day earlier, the mother of Dr Asim Hussain pleaded the Sindh Hight Court to restrain the Sindh Rangers from releasing any video clip or documents to media with regard to interrogation of his son, who has been under terror and corruption charges.
The application was filed on Friday, following a video clip of former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain that emerged on Wednesday in which the suspect leveled startling allegations of corruption against former president Asif Ali Zardari’s foster brother and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Owais Muzaffar alias Tappi.
In her application to the court, Dr Ejaz Fatima, mother of Dr Asim Hussain, submitted that the video-recorded statements of her son were obtained under duress. She also submitted that her son was in illegal detention of the Rangers.
She further submitted that the Rangers were illegally releasing video clips of Dr Asim, which were recorded during his detention.
She said the video clips had created biases and resulted in posing threat of life to her son and other family.
The court was requested to restrain the Rangers and other law-enforcement agencies from releasing any video clip or other documents to the media or any other person.
Any statement given by Dr Asim should only be submitted before the court of the appropriate jurisdiction, she added.
She also sought injunction against airing of the video clips of her son in the media, saying that it had posed threat to life of her son and other family members.
Earlier on Wenesday, a video clip of Dr Asim emerged in which the suspect leveled serious allegations against PPP leader Owais Muzaffar, accusing him of being involved in corruption.
According to details, the video clip of the suspect seemed to have been filmed during the course of his interrogation.
In the video, Dr Asim was seen sitting on a chair, claiming that Owais Muzaffar was raised by PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari’s mother.
“Owais Muzaffar was involved everywhere where there was corruption,” said Dr Asim. “He was the Sindh chief minister even when he wasn’t,” he added.
Dr Asim also claimed that Owais Muzaffar was also involved in corruption pertaining to lands and the purchase of medicines.
“At one time, a doctor told me a vaccine worth Rs 600 and was purchased at Rs 1,000,” said Dr Asim. “When I investigated the matter, it came out that the doctor was right,” he stated.
Dr Asim claimed he had complained of the matter to PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari.
“When Tappi (Owais Muzaffar) came to know that I had complained to Asif Zardari, he threatened me. He told me that he would provide me with a vaccination that I would remember for a long time,” claimed Dr Asim in the video.
The PPP has also condemned the airing of the “confessional statement” of Dr Asim.
The PPP spokesman said that Dr Asim was first held in custody of the law enforcing agency accusing him of terrorism under anti terror laws.
“But when the agency realised that it had no case to prove in a court of law, it changed the track and brought corruption charges against him even though there exist separate legal mechanisms for addressing corruption charges,” he said.
“This is a monstrous notoriety and monumental arrogance of the law enforcing agency which held Dr Asim Hussain in custody and is condemned in the strongest terms,” he said.
He said the video confirmed the apprehensions that Dr Asim would have been brutally tortured to extract from him “so-called confessional statements”.
“Indeed the mother of Dr Asif has filed a petition in the SHC fearing the torture on her son for extracting so-called confessional statements from him to paint black the party leadership,” he said, “The worst fears have come true.”
“Clearly, the Rangers who held Dr Asim in custody is responsible for torturing Dr Asim and the surfacing of this video,” he said.
The spokesperson said in allowing it to go that far, the law-enforcing agency had exposed itself to the charge that it was acting as veritable arm of the Interior Ministry for political engineering by inflicting torture on political opponents.
“Those who tortured Dr Asim must never forget that the laws of nature indeed are very stern. The Mill of God grinds slowly by inexorably and when it starts grinding it grinds exceeding small,” he said.
The PPP spokesman said the party condemned this atrocity and called for the accountability of all those responsible for torturing Dr Asim Hussain.
He said the party also called for early adoption of anti torture legislation passed unanimously by the Senate in March last year. “This legislation is necessary to put to an end torture in custody and to ensure that such crimes are not committed with impunity in future,” he said.