PHC clears bail for suspects in poll trespassing case

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench has granted bail to two suspects arrested under the Terrorism Act for allegedly entering a women’s polling station, smashing ballot boxes and snatching ballot papers during local elections in Buner .

A single member bench consisting of Judge Mohammad Ijaz Khan accepted a joint bail application filed by suspects named Amjid Ali and Javed Afsar on the condition that they provide two sureties of Rs 500,000 each.

The petitioners were charged in a registered FIR at Totalai Police Station, Buner on December 19, 2021, under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, Sections 10 and 17 of the Election Act and Sections 186, 353, 452, 427, 147, 149, 337 A (i)(ii) and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The plaintiff in the FIR was the president of the polling station, Fazal Wadud.

The Complainant stated that he was on duty at the polling station set up at Dokara Government Intermediate School, Buner, during the December 19 local elections. He said that around 5 p.m., the closing time for voting, he asked security personnel to close the main entrance and not allow more voters to enter. He alleged that around 30 to 31 people entered the station by scaling the perimeter walls and attacked him. He alleged that the attackers smashed the ballot boxes and snatched the ballots. The complainant had also named the two applicants, specifying that they were among the attackers.

The petitioners were charged under different sections of the act, including the ATA

He alleged that the attackers belonged to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and they suspected that he (the complainant) had obstructed the voting process.

The bench observed that the record would reveal that all the sections of the law for which the petitioners were charged were either releasable or did not fall within the prohibition clauses of section 497 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, where the granting of a bail was a rule. and his refusal was an exception.

The bench further observed that with respect to Section 7 of the ATA, it was for the trial court to determine whether the petitioners intended to instill fear and terror among the general public in order to attract said provision. He added that according to the contents of the FIR, there was a quarrel between the supporters of two rival political parties at the polling station, so this article of law could not on its own be considered as grounds for refusal of release under bail.

The applicants’ lawyer, Sher Mohammad Khan, argued that his clients had been falsely accused in the FIR. He said no independent, reliable or circumstantial direct evidence against the petitioners was available to link them to the commission of the offence.

Following the incident, the plaintiff had also reached a compromise with the suspects on the intervention of a jirga. However, a few days ago, an anti-terrorism court rejected the applicants’ request for bail, observing that they were accused of having committed non-aggravated offences.

Posted in Dawn, March 28, 2022