ISLAMABAD: A district and sessions court in the federal capital suspended on Tuesday Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan's arrest warrant issued against him in a case relating to threatening remarks against a woman judge.
The development came after Khan approached the court, challenging the arrest warrant which has now been suspended till March 16. His petition was heard by additional sessions judge Faizan Haider Gillani who was marked byduty judge Sikandar Khan, as sessions judge Tahir Mehmood was away on leave.
The former prime minister's legal team — comprising lawyers Naeem Haider Panjotha and Intezar Haider Panjotha — challenged the arrest warrants and appeared before the court, at the outset of the hearing.
Imran Khan’s counsel, when presenting their arguments, said the provisions imposed on the PTI chief are all bailable.
Judge Gillani asked if bailable arrest warrants were issued earlier to which the lawyer responded in the negative.
The court directed Khan’s lawyers to fix the relevant documents in the case and provide it again as the judge said he was struggling to understand the documents that had been submitted.
The lawyers argued that Khan is a former premier and it is the government’s responsibility to provide him security. “The government has withdrawn security from Imran Khan,” the PTI chief’s lawyer said.
The judge questioned if there was a letter mentioning the withdrawal of Khan’s security and asked the lawyer to provide it by tomorrow (Wednesday). The judge also commented over the start of the former premier’s campaign.
“Imran Khan appeared in the judicial complex,” the lawyer said.
The government prosecutor, in his arguments, said that Khan was also summoned in the Toshakhana case.
During the hearing, the judge remarked that Khan appeared in the judicial complex but not before the katchehri.
"The katchehri was attacked in 2014, did it shift after that?" inquired judge Gillani, adding that the katchehri did not even shift when Imran Khan was in power.
"Tell me about the PTI's single legal reform," he added.
The judge said that Khan can come to the katchehri as he has appeared there before as well.
He further remarked that the court called for Khan to give him copies of the case. "The copies of the case are provided to the suspect in personal capacity and not to anyone else," he said.
The prosecutor said whether the sections are bailable or not, they are not related to the warrant.
"Security has been retracted from Imran Khan and this is my case," said Khan's counsel.
The judge asked the counsel to provide a letter to the court in this regard.
The lawyer pleaded for a date in March, as Khan’s petition to appear via video link has also been submitted in the Islamabad High Court.
“You know what will happen on video link. I’ll give you two months,” the judge said.
The lawyer said he cannot appear due to personal engagements, requesting the court for Thursday’s date.
After this, the court issued notices to the parties and ordered Khan’s lawyers to produce documents related to withdrawal of Khan’s security.
The hearing was then adjourned till March 16.
A day earlier, senior civil judge Rana Mujahid Rahim had issued Khan’s non-bailable arrest warrant for repeatedly failing to appear before the court after which a police partyfrom the federal capital flew to Lahore by helicopter to arrest the PTI chairman.
Khan skipped the hearing and filed an exemption plea from physically appearing before the judge, requesting permission for joining the court proceedings virtually via video link.
The court had dismissed the deposed premier's — whose government was ousted from power after a no-confidence motion in April last year — petition and ordered the police to produce Khan before it by March 29.
During the hearing, a lawyer for the PTI chief, Intezar Haider Panjotha, had said it was not safe for the 71-year-old politician to come to Islamabad amid security threats against him, adding that they had filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) asking permission to appear virtually before the courts.
Another member of Khan's legal team, Naeem Haider Panjotha, had said a petition has been filed seeking exemption from attendance on behalf of the former prime minister on security grounds.
The lawyer had also requested to accept Imran's plea, mentioning "not appearing for some reasons and not willing to appear are two different things".
The Islamabad police team arrived to arrest him, as he geared up to lead a massive election rally in a show of power with thousands of frenzied workers waiting for him to take the lead in the party's efforts to turn up the heat on the government.
The police said they would need a sizable backup to pick up Khan and take him to Islamabad, according to sources.