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Thursday April 18, 2024

Toshakhana case: IHC bars police from arresting Imran Khan

In fresh application, Imran Khan has assured IHC that he will appear in district court tomorrow

By Awais Yousafzai
March 17, 2023
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan. —PTI/Instagram
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan. —PTI/Instagram

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) stopped on Friday the police from arresting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq heard Khan’s plea challenging the order of Islamabad’s district and session court that had issued the arrest warrant for the PTI chief.

The high court said that the former prime minister should be given a chance to appear before the court.

The IHC's Registrar's Office had earlier raised objections to Khan's petition challenging his arrest warrants in the Toshakhana case.

The PTI chief's biometric verification is not available, the office noted. "How can the high court hear the same matter on which it has already made its decision?" the office also questioned.

Later, the court decided to take up Khan's plea with the RO's objections.

At the outset of today’s hearing, the IHC chief justice inquired about the objections raised on the petition. Khan’s counsel, Khawaja Haris, informed him that the biometric verification issue had been addressed.

About the objections regarding the IHC’s decision on the previous petition, he said that the court had referred the matter to the trial court.

“We had asked the court to look into the undertaking issue,” the chief justice said.

He noted that everyone is equal before the law. “You want to appear before the court and give assurance in this regard?” he asked.

At this, Khan’s counsel requested the bench to suspend the arrest warrant so that the PTI chief could appear before the court.

Justice Farooq warned the lawyer that there would be consequences if he doesn’t fulfil the promise and contempt proceedings will be initiated.

After this, the court granted relief to Imran Khan and directed the police to not arrest him.

The IHC also ordered the district administration and Islamabad police to provide security.

In the petition, the former prime minister had challenged the Islamabad court's decision of rejecting his plea seeking suspension of arrest warrants issued against him in the Toshakhana case.

Khan, who is holed up in his Zaman Park residence in Lahore in defiance of the court order that had directed him to appear before it, had filed the plea through his lawyer Haris.  

In his petition, the PTI chairman requested: "The undertaking should be accepted and the police should be stopped from arresting [him]."

The PTI chief also assured the court of his appearance before the Islamabad court tomorrow (Saturday), requesting the court to hear his plea urgently.

"[...] non-bailable warrant of arrest has been issued by this court just for the appearance of the applicant. The applicant is ready and willing to appear before this court on the fixed date i.e. 18.03.2023 and he has given his undertaking in this regard," the petition read.

"It is trite law that the purpose of issuance of a non-bailable warrant of arrest is to ensure attendance of the accused and the undertaking has fulfilled the purpose of the warrant. Arrest and detention of the applicant will serve no useful purpose and he will be humiliated just for nothing."

Background

The Islamabad court had announced to indict the former prime minister on February 28 in the case but his lawyer sought an exemption from personal appearance because he had to appear in other courts.

The court had deferred his indictment in the case multiple times.

When Imran Khan skipped the hearing, the court issued his non-bailable arrest warrant and directed the police to present him on March 7.

Khan, however, approached the IHC which suspended the warrants and ordered him to appear before the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Iqbal on March 13 but the PTI chairman again skipped the hearing after which warrant were re-issued.

The police were directed to arrest Imran Khan and present him before the court on March 18.

A police party was sent to Lahore to arrest Khan but the attempts to take him into custody led to violent clashes between the police and the PTI workers, leaving more than 60 personnel of the law enforcement agencies injured.

On Tuesday, Imran Khan filed a petition in the IHC challenging the re-issuance of the warrant, however, his plea was turned down and he was directed to approach the trial court.

On Thursday, PTI submitted an undertaking with the court of judge Zafar Iqbal but the plea was rejected.