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Monday June 17, 2024

Govt moves SC against IHC verdict on Imran’s jail trial in cipher case

IHC did not evaluate the facts of the case properly, contends caretaker govt

By Maryam Nawaz
January 19, 2024
Former PM Imran Khan. — AFP/File
Former PM Imran Khan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The caretaker government on Friday moved the Supreme Court against Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) verdict nullifying the jail trial of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan's jail trial in cipher case.

In November last year, IHC nullified the notification for conducting the founder Imran Khan's jail trial in the cipher case registered on charges of leaking state secrets.

An IHC division bench, comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz, announced the verdict on November 21, 2023 on Imran’s intra-court appeal against a single-member bench’s decision to approve his jail trial in the cipher case under the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

In its petition filed in the apex court today, the federal government implored the SC to overturn the IHC decision saying that the high court did not evaluate the facts of the case properly.

It contended that the IHC did not have the authority to declare a special court formed to hold cipher trial of the former premier as invalid.

Allowing Khan's intra-court appeal, the division bench declared the law ministry's notification "to be without lawful authority and no legal effect".

The IHC stated in the three-page short order that the jail trial can be conducted in "exceptional circumstances".

"In exceptional circumstances and where it is conducive to justice, a trial can be conducted in jail in a manner that fulfills the requirements of an open trial or a trial in camera provided it is in accordance with the procedure provided by law."

The court also declared that the November 15 notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice after the caretaker cabinet's approval of the jail trial "cannot be given retrospective effect".

Subsequently, Imran’s cipher trial was started afresh but the IHC declared all the proceedings in the cipher case conducted by a special court after December 14, 2023 as invalid.