A top Pakistani court on Tuesday ordered the Islamabad City Magistrate to appear before it to explain why sedition and terrorism charges were slapped against demonstrators holding peaceful protests against the arrest of a Pashtun minority leader known for criticising the country's powerful military
Police in Islamabad last month booked 23 people for taking part in a protest against the arrest of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the case of the activists who were released on bail.
How can you first place sedition charges on peaceful protesters and later turn them into terrorism charges? Chief Justice Minallah remarked.
Islamabad City Magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Chandio had included sedition charges in the FIR registered against the 23 activists who had been detained for protesting against the arrest of Pashteen. Charges of sedition were later changed into charges of terrorism.
Why should we not start proceedings against the one who asked for the case to be registered? The magistrate should appear in court and tell us why he gave such orders," Justice Minallah said.
He ordered that the magistrate provide the court his explanation along with a sworn affidavit and warned that he could be stripped of his judicial powers.
The court adjourned the hearing till February 17 and summoned chief commissioner and the Islamabad police chief to appear before it on the next hearing.
The activists along with a lawmaker were arrested on January 27.
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