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IHC turns down post-arrest bail petition of govt official allegedly involved in spying for foreign

ISLAMABAD – The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has turned down post-arrest bail petition of a senior government official for his alleged involvement in spying for foreign agencies. 

A single-member bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the bail petition of Syed Qalbi Abbas, a senior official, working on deputation at the Chinese Desk of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and against whom the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Counter-Terrorism Wing registered a First Information Report (FIA) under section 3 and 4 of Official Secret Act 1923 on February 15. 

According to the FIR, Abbas met a diplomat/foreign intelligence agent with the intent to communicate and deliver secret information and documents detrimental to the safety and interests of the state. 

During the hearing, Abbas’s counsel, Shah Khawar Advocate contended that the nature of job of his client required him to meet diplomats. He further adopted that the petitioner had unblemished service record. 

The counsel adopted the stance before the court that the FIR registered against his client was based on fake and frivolous grounds and the case needed further inquiry and therefore, the petitioner was entitled to relief of bail. He added that there was no possibility that he might abscond if released on bail. 

In response to his arguments, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Tariq Mehmood Khokhar on behalf of the federal government said that Abbas had been nominated in the FIR with a specific role having been attributed to him. 

He maintained that the petitioner’s statement had been recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code and recovery had been made. The AAG further said that the evidence clearly established that the petitioner was working for foreign intelligence agencies. He added that there is sufficient evidence on record to connect the petitioner with the commission of the alleged offence.   

He said to the court that the petitioner was not entitled to relief of bail because the offences invoked against him, if proved, might result in capital punishment or life imprisonment. 

After hearing the arguments of both sides, the IHC Chief Justice observed that in addition to the violations of Official Secret Act, Section 409 of the Pakistan Penal Code had also been invoked against him for breach of public trust. 

He noted that it is asserted on behalf of the prosecution that recovery was made on the spot and the statement of the accused was recorded under section 164 CrPC. He added that at this stage, a deeper appreciation of evidence is not permissible. 

Justice Minallah mentioned that the defense counsel could take appropriate steps to conclude the trial as soon as possible. He said that the suspect could not be released on bail at this stage and subsequently dismissed his post-arrest bail petition.

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