ISLAMABAD: A court in the federal capital ordered the police to arrest Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case once again over his non-appearance.
The district and sessions court had earlier reserved its verdict on a petition filed by the former prime minister seeking an exemption from the hearing of the case.
Last week, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended the non-bailable arrest warrant for Khan issued by the local court issued due to the PTI chief's continuous absence.
IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq accepted the PTI chief's plea against Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal's decision and directed Khan to ensure that he appears before the lower court on March 13.
However, during today's hearing, Khan filed an exemption plea citing security threats and failed to appear before the court once again.
Rejecting Khan's exemption plea, the court issued orders to arrest the PTI chief and present him before the court on March 18.
"It is the police's job to bring Imran Khan to the court," remarked the court.
At the outset of today's hearing, Imran Khan's legal team again sought an exemption citing security threats and also filed a request to be discharged from the case.
Judge Iqbal heard the case and reserved the verdict till 3:15pm today on the plea filed by Khan's counsel Khawaja Haris.
"It's not that Imran Khan is not appearing before the court deliberately. He has security threats," said the lawyer.
Haris also filed a plea seeking to declare the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) complaint against the PTI chief as "non-maintainable".
The sessions court had ordered the PTI chairman to appear before it for his indictment in the case. However, Khan's lawyer stated that the PTI chair will not appear before courts today.
Khan's counsel said that it should be decided whether the case is admissible before issuing an arrest warrant, adding that legal requirements were not taken into account while filing a complaint against Khan.
"The Election Commission did not file a complaint against Imran Khan but the district election commissioner did," he said, adding that the instructions in the complaint were to take action against the PTI chief.
He added that the Election Commission can file a complaint against the former premier. "There was no need for an affidavit when lodging a complaint against Khan and the complainant had different signatures on the affidavit and the statement," added Haris.
Khan's lawyer also said that a complaint against corrupt practice and criminal proceedings could have been lodged within 120 days as per the law but in this case, it was filed after three years.
Haris said that the IHC had suspended the warrant till today and directed to continue the proceedings as per the law.
Election Commission's lawyer Saad Hasan, while presenting his arguments, said that the main debate revolves around Khan's arrest warrant.
"If the court thinks that the complaint is inadmissible then there is no issue in that," he added.
Hasan said that the IHC's suspension of the warrant expired today, adding that the high court had directed Khan to appear before the court today.
The session court should check if the warrant is implementable.
Meanwhile, Khan's counsel stated that there is no reason to take criminal action against the former PM.
He added if the ECP has to present arguments regarding the admissibility of the complaint then all the previous hearings will become illegal.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha, while speaking to media persons, said that Khan is flouting the law.
The court's warrant against Khan should be implemented, he said, adding that the PTI chief should be arrested on the orders of the IHC.
"Imran Khan has stolen and now is answerable for that. He is escaping from the court," said Ranjha.
Berating Khan, the PML-N leader said that the PTI chief destroyed the country. "Imran Khan did not plan any project in the country during his three-year tenure," he lamented.
Ranjha said that the PTI chairman should come to court and attend the proceedings. "He is neither Sadiq nor Ameen, he is a thief," he said.
A district and sessions court in Islamabad reserved its verdict in case today
PML-N supremo calls for accountability of those behind his ouster
US diplomat Thomas West concludes 'productive' Pakistan visit
"A cache of weapons and explosives was also recovered during the operation," says military’s media wing
SPB directs banks to keep designated branches operational on weekend from 9am to 2pm
Development comes after IPP's Jahangir Tareen meets PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif at his Lahore residence