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Imran Khan gets one-time exemption from three Islamabad courts

Islamabad High Court orders PTI chief to join probe in Mohsin Ranjha attack case

By Arfa Feroz Zake
March 09, 2023
Former prime minister Imran Khan (centre) leaves after appearing at a court in Islamabad on February 28, 2023. — AFP
Former prime minister Imran Khan (centre) leaves after appearing at a court in Islamabad on February 28, 2023. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Thursday received a one-time exemption from in-person appearances from three Islamabad courts.

The deposed prime minister — whose government was ousted in April 2022 — was scheduled to appear before a district and sessions court, the anti-terrorism court, and the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The ex-premier is embroiled in legal battles — from lower courts to the Supreme Court — ranging from prohibited funding, sedition, and terror charges — and in all, he denies any wrongdoing.

The PTI chief, who remained in power for nearly four years, claimed recently that 76 cases have been registered against him, however, The News' investigation showed that he faces less than 40.

High court

The IHC extended the interim bail of PTI’s chairman till March 21, and directed him to join the investigation process in the case regarding an attack on Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha.

The court also granted a one-time exemption from attendance to the PTI chairman. IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq presided over the hearing.

At the outset of the hearing, Advocate General Islamabad Jahangir Jadoon informed the court that the PTI’s chief had not joined the investigation process.

He said that the suspect should let the trial proceed in, at least, one case.

The IHC chief justice remarked that the law would take its course if Khan didn’t join the investigation process — as his moves will have consequences.

Justice Farooq observed that the court was granting time because Khan had to join the investigation.

Khan’s counsel adopted the stance that no investigation officer had approached his client in this case. At this, the prosecutor said that it was the suspect who had to appear before the investigation team instead of the IO.

The lawyer said that Imran was ready to join the investigation.

After this, the hearing of the case was adjourned till March 21.

It may be mentioned that the capital police had registered an FIR against Khan with regard to an attack on Ranjha during a protest after the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the Toshakhana case.

Judge-threatening case

A local court also granted a one-time exemption from appearance to the PTI chief and adjourned the hearing in the case of Khan allegedly threatening a female judge till March 13.

Civil Judge Rana Mujahid Raheem heard the case against Khan regarding his alleged threatening remarks about the Judicial Magistrate Zeba Chaudhry.

Khan’s lawyer Naeem Panjutha adopted the stance that the health condition of his client didn’t allow him to travel from Lahore to Islamabad.

Furthermore, there were also life threats to the PTI’s chief, he added.

The former prime minister prayed to the court to grant him a one-time exemption from appearance in the case.

The lawyer said that Khan wanted to appear before the court but he had been receiving life threats. He said that his client had given applications to different courts for appearance through video link.

The prosecutor said that Section-144 was imposed in Lahore but not on the appearance of PTI’s chief.

After arguments, the court granted a one-time exemption from appearance to the PTI chief and adjourned the case till March 13.

Khan was booked in a case for threatening judicial magistrate Zeba Chaudhry and police officers at a rally in F-9 Park on August 20, to “terrorise” police officials and the judiciary.

However, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) quashed the terror charges and directed to transfer the case to a relevant court under the remaining sections in the FIR on September 19.

ECP protest case

In the terrorism case for protests outside the ECP office, Khan's lawyer Panjutha appeared before the anti-terrorism court (ATC) and sought an exemption for his client.

As Panjutha tried to present his arguments, ATC Judge Raja Jawad Abbas asked whether his arguments would be based on security threats to the PTI chief.

"Before the court, your arguments are presented on television," the judge remarked and noted that he would wait for the IHC's decision and then decide on the matter.

The prosecutor said that Khan claims that his life is under threat, but he wishes to lead rallies. He argued that it would be better for the PTI chief if he appeared before the court instead of wishing to lead rallies. The prosecutor demanded Khan's exemption plea be thrown out.

The judge noted that if other suspects are given a chance then why not Khan? He told the prosecutor that even if the court were to reject his plea, then the law enforcers do not arrest him.

The court — which resumed after a break — approved Khan's exemption plea and extended his interim bail till March 21.

It is pertinent to mention here the terrorism case was filed lodged against the PTI chief in October last year at Islamabad’s Sangjani Police Station after PTI workers held protests and demonstrations outside ECP offices across the country after it disqualified Khan in the Toshakhana reference.