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Tuesday May 21, 2024

'Non-compliance': IHC throws out Bushra Bibi's plea for Adiala transfer

Former first lady files petition seeking permission to undergo medical examination and tests from health facility of her choice

By Awais Yousafzai
April 16, 2024
Pakistans former prime minister, Imran Khan (right) pictured alongside his wife Bushra Bibi as he signs surety bonds for bail in various cases, at a registrars office in the Lahore High Court, in Lahore on July 17, 2023. — AFP
Pakistan's former prime minister, Imran Khan (right) pictured alongside his wife Bushra Bibi as he signs surety bonds for bail in various cases, at a registrar's office in the Lahore High Court, in Lahore on July 17, 2023. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday rejected the petition by Bushra Bibi, wife of former prime minister Imran Khan, seeking transfer to Adiala jail from her Bani Gala residence where she has been placed under house arrest after its declaration as a sub-jail following her conviction in the Toshakhana case.

Hearing the former first lady's petition today, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb lamented the absence of her lawyer and said: "Why Bushra's lawyer did not appear in the court? [...] She would have been transferred to the Adiala [jail] as per her wish if he [her lawyer] had won the case."

The development comes after Bushra, citing security reasons, had moved the IHC in February seeking transfer to the Adiala prison where her husband also remains imprisoned.

In her plea, the former first lady had stressed that she was ready and willing to serve her sentence in the ordinary jail premises at Adiala jail, rather than the declared sub-jail at her residence.

"While the petitioner is in good health currently, however, there has been a movement of unidentified people in the house declared sub-jail by the government, thereby, contributing to the sense of insecurity," the petition added.

During the hearing today, Justice Aurangzeb lamented the absence and non-compliance of the former first lady's counsel and questioned whether the applicants actually wanted the relief that they sought in the first place.

"[They] are doing politics with the court," the judge said adding that the lawyers failed to appear before the court even though they were told that the court would decide the matter after hearing the arguments.

"Shoaib Shaheen came [to court but] left and didn't come back," he noted.

Speaking during the hearing, the state counsel apprised the court that the authorities had arranged a meeting between Khan and his wife during the Eid-ul-Fitr.

Later on, Bushra's lawyers, including Usman Riaz Gill, did manage to reach the court and cited security barricades and checkpoints for their delayed arrival.

"We have dismissed your plea on non-compliance. However, you can file an application for the case to be reinstated," Justice Aurangzeb said to Gill.

To this, the petitioner's lawyer said that they will be submitting a plea for reinstatement of their petition shortly.

Cameras in the bathroom violate privacy

Today's development comes after the former first lady moved the IHC a day earlier alleging that jail authorities had installed closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in her bathroom, The News reported.

The petition submitted via Advocate Shoaib Shaheen, claims that she was poisoned urging the court to allow her to undergo medical examination and tests from Shaukat Khanum Hospital or any other private hospital of her choice to find out if she had consumed contaminated food.

It is pertinent to know that in February, PTI lawyer Naeem Haider Panjutha claimed that the former first lady had suffered mouth ulcers after she was given a spicy meal.

The party has time again raised concerns over the safety and worsening health of the former first lady who had even petitioned the IHC to be moved to the Adiala jail facility, where Khan is imprisoned, from her residence which the authorities have declared a sub-jail citing security concerns.

In her petition, Bushra's counsel Shaheen has contended that his client suspects that some sort of acid was mixed in her meal after she suffered severe gut pain and a burning sensation in her throat and mouth.

The plea further calls for the former first lady to be transferred to the Adiala facility as the bathroom provided in the Bani Gala sub-jail was compromised and several hidden cameras were installed there.

Furthermore, the IHC has been requested to ensure the protection of the petitioner's life, fundamental rights and prohibit the respondents — the interior secretary, IG prisons Punjab, Adiala jail superintendent and health secretary — in the petition from acting in any manner that goes against Articles 4, 9 and 14 of the Constitution.