Secret Act, first special court set up, in-camera hearing against Shah Mehmood, 4-day physical remand granted

Under the Official Secrets Act, Islamabad (representative of the military and agencies) has established the country’s first specialized private court in Islamabad. The Judge of the Anti-Terrorism Court, Abu al-Hasnat Zulqarnain, has been assigned the additional charge of the specialized court established under the Official Secrets Act. This court will conduct hearings according to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, and the proceedings will be recorded on camera as per the law.

The Anti-Terrorism Court has confirmed that only one specialized court has been established nationwide under the Official Secrets Act. The first case was heard in this court on Monday, where Judge Abu al-Hasnat Zulqarnain conducted a hearing via video link against Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the Saifur Rehman case. During this time, unrelated individuals present in the courtroom were asked to leave, and a police cordon was established outside the court premises.

Under the supervision of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), former Foreign Minister and Vice Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Shah Mahmood Qureshi was presented before the court amid tight security. FIA Prosecutor Khushnood Ahmed and Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s legal team, including Shoaib Shahin, Intizar Panjutha, Barrister Gohar Ali, and Ali Bukhari, were present.

The FIA authorities requested a 13-day physical remand for Shah Mahmood Qureshi, stating that physical remand is required for the submission of documents related to Saifur Rehman. However, Shoaib Shahin, the advocate, expressed his lack of confidence in cooperating with the FIA and opposed the physical remand. The legal representatives of Shah Mahmood Qureshi, including Ali Bukhari and Shoaib Shahin, referred to various court decisions, while FIA Prosecutor Khushnood Ahmed read out the Official Secrets Act.

After listening to the arguments from both sides, the court reserved its judgment. Subsequently, the court approved a 4-day physical remand for Shah Mahmood Qureshi and handed him over to the custody of the FIA authorities. The court also ordered Shah Mahmood Qureshi to appear in court again on August 25th.

This development marks a significant step in the legal landscape of Pakistan, with the establishment of a specialized private court under the Official Secrets Act. The case involving Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the proceedings of this court will be closely monitored, as it sets a precedent for future cases under the Official Secrets Act.