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IHC accepts Imran Khan's plea for protective bail in prohibited funding case

IHC had told authorities not to arrest PTI Chairman Imran Khan "until he appears in court"

By Awaid Yousafzai
October 12, 2022
Pakistan´s former Prime Minister Imran Khan leaves after appearing before the High Court in Islamabad on October 12. — Twitter video screengrab
Pakistan´s former Prime Minister Imran Khan leaves after appearing before the High Court in Islamabad on October 12. — Twitter video screengrab

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) approved on Wednesday PTI Chairman Imran Khan's plea seeking protective bail in the prohibited funding case, till October 18 against surety bonds of Rs5,000.

Khan's lawyer had approached the IHC to obtain protective bail for his client earlier in the day, as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) booked the former premier in the prohibited funding case in the latest step to ramp up the investigation into the matter.

The plea stated that the FIA has registered a case against Khan under sections of the Foreign Exchange Act, 1947. Khan prayed to the court to grant him protective bail so he could appear before the trial court for the case proceedings.

'Only PTI has legal political fund raising': Imran Khan

Speaking to the media outside the IHC, Imran Khan said that the funding of all parties, including PTI, will be looked into together.

“I give you this in writing today, only a single party has a legal [source of] political fund raising, and its name is Tehreek-e-Insaf [PTI],” he said, stressing that all other political parties raise funds through fraudulent ways.

Khan said that it is unfortunate that the chief election commissioner [CEC] is still not “exposing their funding” despite the IHC’s directive to hear the cases of all parties’ funding

together.

“He [CEC] is not doing so because he […] is a biased person,” Khan said.

He said that the public would know which party has legal political fund raising and which doesn’t.

Imran Khan appears before IHC

Khan appeared before the court after IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah summoned him to the hearing in personal capacity earlier in the day.

At the outset of the hearing, Khan's lawyer Salman Safdar maintained that they fear the arrest of Imran Khan in the new prohibited funding case.

"Which court do you think [you] should go to in the prohibited funding case?" IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah inquired from the lawyer. At this, Safdar replied that one should go to the court of special judge central.

The IHC CJ asked where Imran Khan was and why he didn't appear in court.

"Imran Khan will appear before the court instantly if it orders to," Safdar responded. He said that police have encircled Khan's residence in Bani Gala.

IHC CJ Minallah then summoned Imran Khan to court at 3pm.

However, Safdar said that 3pm would be late so the PTI chair will appear within half an hour.

The court agreed to the lawyer's suggestion and told Khan to appear within half an hour. It also barred the Islamabad administration from "harassing" Khan.

"Imran Khan shouldn't be arrested until he appears in court," IHC remarked.

After hearing arguments from the parties, the court directed Khan to approach the relevant court. It removed the objections from the plea and granted Khan protective bail till Tuesday.

The IHC Registrar Office had raised three objections on Khan's plea which are stated below:

  • Imran Khan did not undergo bio-metric verification before filing the plea.
  • He approached IHC instead of the relevant special court.
  • He attached an unverified copy of the FIR with plea.

Case filed against Imran Khan for allegedly receiving prohibited funds

On Tuesday, FIA registered a case against Khan for his alleged involvement in prohibited funding, at the FIA's banking circle police station.

In the FIR, the federal agency alleged the Abraaj Group transferred $2100,000 to the PTI account in the branch of a bank situated at Jinnah Avenue in Islamabad.

Abraaj Group was a private equity firm, operating on six continents, which is currently in liquidation due to accusations of fraud.

In addition, the party received more financing from two bank accounts of Wotan Cricket Club, read the FIR.

The FIA said the manager of the private bank helped the agency in its probe into the questionable transactions.

Besides Khan, Sardar Azhar Tariq, Tariq Shafi, and Younis Aamir Kiani have also been nominated in the FIR. The FIA said the affidavit submitted to the ECP by businessman Arif Naqvi was also false.

The FIR also mentioned the manager of the same bank branch had also been nominated in the case. It added that there were 12 currency transaction reports and suspicious transaction reports that had to be reported by the bank officials to the concerned authorities, but they failed to do so.

The FIR alleged the branch's operations manager had also failed to report these illegal transactions to the concerned authorities.

The FIR came just a day after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued a notice to the FIA in the prohibited funding case after PTI asked the court to stop the agency from probing the case.

The FIA has time and again summoned PTI leaders for questioning, however, not all of them have shown up.

On October 10, a district court in Lahore sent PTI leader Hamid Zaman on a 14-day judicial remand in the prohibited funding case.

The FIA had registered a case against Zaman, a trustee of the Insaf Trust, over prohibited party funding.

ECP's verdict in prohibited funding case

On August 02, 2022, the ECP, in a unanimous verdict, announced that the PTI received prohibited funding. The case was earlier referred to as the "foreign funding" case, but later the election commission accepted the PTI's plea to refer to it as the "prohibited funding" case.

The commission found that donations were taken from America, Australia, Canada and the UAE.

PTI received funds from 34 individuals and 351 businesses including companies, the ECP verdict stated.

Thirteen unknown accounts also came to light, said the commission in the verdict, adding that hiding accounts are a "violation" of Article 17 of the Constitution.

The funds were also in violation of Article 6 of the Political Parties Act.

Moreover, the ECP found that Khan submitted a false Nomination Form I and that the affidavit provided regarding party accounts was also not authentic.

Following ECP's declaration, the FIA launched a formal countrywide investigation into the utilisation of funds from “prohibited” sources by the PTI.

A five-member monitoring team was constituted in this regard to supervise inquiries across Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore and Quetta. The team was headed by Muhammad Athar Waheed.