Wednesday July 24, 2024

LHC rejects Imran Khan's protective bail plea

Court remarks it has "no other option but to reject bail plea"

By Shahid Hussain
February 16, 2023
An undated image of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan. — AFP
An undated image of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan. — AFP

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Thursday dismissed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan's plea seeking protective bail in a terror case registered against him over alleged vandalism during the protests erupted in Islamabad against his disqualification by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) last year in October — after the ex-premier failed to appear in person before it.

The ousted prime minister, who was removed from power via a no-confidence move, was booked in the terror case in October last year after the Toshakhana verdict was announced by the ECP, sparking countrywide protests.

The FIR stated that the PTI activists pelted stones at the police, FC, and administration officials, injuring several. It stated that the protestors tried to ram their cars into police with the intention of murder, set trees on fire in Faizabad and the surrounding areas and tried to harm government property. The terror case was lodged on the state's behalf at Islamabad’s Sangjani police station.

Khan moves LHC for protective bail

Earlier today, Azhar Siddique — Khan’s counsel — filed a plea in the LHC seeking a 15-day protective bail for his client. In his plea, the PTI leader said that he respects the court, adding that he wanted to approach Islamabad’s courts but there are fears of his arrest.

The doctors have recommended he rest completely after a "failed assassination" attempt, the plea said, urging the high court to grant him a 15-day protective bail.

A two-member LHC bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi and comprising Shehbaz Rizvi heard the plea.

During the proceedings, Khan’s counsel cited some examples in which protective bail was granted to the suspect in absentia.

“You have filed the plea to avoid possible arrest [of Khan]. We know the rule that in-person appearance is mandatory for bail before arrest,” remarked Justice Najafi.

“It was not written in [Khan’s] medical report that he cannot come in a wheelchair,” he added. At this, the lawyer requested the court to give him some time for consultation.

Justice Rizvi remarked that Khan should have appeared before the court. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing till 6 pm.

Khan failed to appear before the court even after the break. At this, the court dismissed Khan’s plea for protective bail over non-appearance.

LHC rejects Imran Khans protective bail plea

According to the order sheet of the LHC, when the hearing again resumed, neither Khan nor his counsel was present in the courtroom.

LHC orders Khan to appear before it on Feb 20

In another case filed against the former prime minister for protests outside the ECP office, a single-member bench of the LHC ordered the PTI chairman to appear before it at 2pm on February 20.

Khan had moved the high court after an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad cancelled his bail in the same case a day earlier over non-appearance.

Khan is on bail on medical grounds after he was injured in an assassination attempt in Wazirabad during a rally on November 3. Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh heard the case.

During today's proceedings, Advocate Siddique submitted his power of attorney on behalf of Khan who was directed to appear before the court in person today.

"A meeting with Imran Khan's doctors is going on and the party has concerns over his security," the lawyer argued before the court and requested additional time.

"How much time do you need?" asked Justice Sheikh.

To this query, the counsel said that they will try their best to ensure Khan’s presence in two hours.

After hearing this, the court adjourned the hearing till 12:30pm.

As the hearing resumed, Siddique’s associate sought more time. “Consultations are still underway… we need more time,” he pleaded with the court.

Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing till 2pm.

When the hearing resumed again, Khan’s counsel told the court that another bail plea has been filed. He also said that they had met the doctors and are ready to follow court orders.

The lawyer also told the court that the doctor of the former prime minister was also present in the court.

However, Justice Sheikh said that they do not want to hear from the doctor. “Imran Khan must appear in court,” he remarked.

The counsel then asked the court to wait for the other bail plea that was being filed.

“There is no need to wait for it, present your arguments on the current petition,” asked Justice Sheikh.

The lawyer then told the judge that he wants to withdraw the current petition.

At this, Justice Sheikh remarked the problem is that there are different signs of Imran Khan on the affidavit and power of attorney.

“How can the signatures be different?” asked the court.

Khan’s lawyer then asked the court to give him time to look into the matter.

‘Someone tried to commit fraud’

“You look at it right now. Someone tried to commit fraud, I will issue contempt of court notice to you or Imran Khan,” remarked Justice Sheikh. He added that he will not allow the petition to be taken back till the issue is resolved.

“I will have to take instructions from Imran Khan on this,” responded Siddique.

The court then took notice of the different signatures and adjourned the hearing till 6:30pm.

As the hearing resumed again after the fourth adjournment, the PTI’s counsel once again sought time. At this, the court adjourned the hearing till February 20.