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Friday June 21, 2024

Cipher case: IHC to hear Imran Khan’s bail plea in open court

Court asks FIA prosecutors to file a request regarding in-camera proceedings at the time of next hearing

By Awais Yousafzai
September 26, 2023
View of the Islamabad High Court. — Geo News
View of the Islamabad High Court. — Geo News

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday issued an order stating that the next hearing of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan's bail plea in the cipher case will be held in an open court.

Chief Justice Aamer Farooq issued the two-page written order on the prosecution's request seeking in-camera proceedings of the case. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had requested the court for an in-camera hearing, citing "privileged" and "sensitive" documents and information as a reason.

The court has, therefore, asked the FIA prosecutors to file a separate petition regarding in-camera proceedings at the time of the next hearing.

The order further said that the special prosecutor for the agency had contended that when the bail application before the trial court was argued, the public was isolated, however, the official conceded that the petitioner argued its case in open court.

However, the order mentioned that the PTI counsel said he had no objection if unnecessary people were barred from the courtroom. 

The FIA prosecutors, in their request, also mentioned that the hearing of the case in the special trial court was also held in-camera and unauthorised people were asked to leave the courtroom.

"Be that as it may, Section 14 of the Official Secret Act, 1923 permits exclusion of the public from the proceedings, however, the reading of the section shows that if such is to be undertaken, the prosecution has to make an application," it added.

The court mentioned that the prosecution may move an appropriate application if it is interested in the public's exclusion from the proceedings.

Attock jail notification declared 'null and void'

In a separate hearing, the IHC declared null and void the authorities’ notification to keep PTI chairman in Attock jail.

In a written order, IHC Chief Justice Aamir Farooq approved the request to transfer Khan to Adiala jail. The court stated that the PTI chief had been sentenced to three years in the Toshakhana case.

The trial court had directed to keeping the PTI chief in Adiala Jail, but due to security concerns, he was transferred to the Attock jail to complete his sentence on the recommendation of the Inspector General of Prisons.

Despite the suspension of his sentence in the Toshakhana case by the IHC on August 28, the former prime minister remained incarcerated in the prison as he was also arrested in the cipher case.

The additional advocate general of Punjab stated that shifting Khan to Adiala jail poses a security risk. Under-trial prisoners of all cases registered in the federal capital are kept in the Adiala jail, while only convicted prisoners can be shifted to any jail in Punjab.

The court said that Khan, as a former prime minister, is entitled to better class facilities in jail.

In its written order, the court stated that the PTI chairman’s lawyer had requested the provision of gym equipment to his client in jail; however, the court said it cannot issue such instructions because it is not clear whether such facilities are allowed or not.

The superintendent jail, the court said, is the authorised authority in this regard, and appropriate requests should be filed with them.