ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi got constitutional immunity in a case registered against him under different sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for inciting violence during the 2014 sit-in in the federal capital.
An anti-terrorism court (ATC) of Islamabad suspended the proceedings against Dr Alvi until he remained president.
“An accused person facing trial namely Dr Arif Alvi has already been elected and has taken oath of the office of President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Keeping in view the above fact in light of Article 248 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, protection has been provided to the President and as per Article 248 (2) of the Constitution, no criminal proceeding whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during term of office,” wrote ATC Judge Syed Kausar Abbasi Zaidi in an order issued in cases relating to attacks on the Parliament House and Pakistan Television building.
ATC suspends trial proceedings till time of expiry of his term of office
It said that in the light of the above-mentioned law, trial proceedings against Dr Arif Alvi in the instant case were hereby adjourned sine die till the time of expiry of his term of office.
After assuming the office of president, Dr Alvi had said that he would not seek presidential immunity. However, his counsel Mohammad Ali Bukhari had on Sept 11 pointed out that the president enjoyed constitutional protection against criminal proceedings under Article 248 of the Constitution.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is also an accused in the case and the ATC granted him permanent exemption as his counsel Dr Babar Awan assured the court that he would represent Mr Khan on every date of hearing.
Police invoked the ATA against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, Dr Alvi, Asad Umar, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Shafqat Mehmood and Raja Khurram Nawaz for inciting violence during the 2014 sit-in.
As per the prosecution, three people were killed and 26 injured, while 60 were arrested. The prosecution had submitted 65 photos, sticks, cutters, etc, to the court to establish its case.
The prosecution said the protest was not peaceful and the PTI leaders sought bail after three years. On Aug 31, 2014, PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers marched towards the Parliament House and Prime Minister House and clashed with police deployed at the Constitution Avenue. Around 50 protesters, allegedly from the PTI and PAT, attacked and injured SSP Asmatullah Junejo the next day. Initially, police arrested six people who were allegedly involved in the attack.
In addition to unidentified attackers, police had also nominated Imran Khan and PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri as accused in the case. The ATC declared them proclaimed offenders in November 2014 as they did not appear before the court despite issuance of summons and arrest warrants.
In July last year, the ATC declared them absconders and started the process of confiscating their movable and immovable properties. In May this year, the ATC acquitted Mr Khan in the SSP torture case.
In the case related to attacks on the Parliament House and PTV building, the court is yet to issue proclamation against the accused for their absence. The PTI leaders, including Mr Khan, remained absconders in these cases and surrendered in October last year.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2018