Thursday March 23, 2023

News Analysis: Legal expert says IHC order shows Imran misrepresented facts

“the trial court issued [a] non-bailable arrest warrant. The warrant was lawful and it was incumbent on [the] police to ensure Imran’s presence before court” says Reema Omer

March 16, 2023
An undated image of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan. — Instagram/imrankhan.pti
An undated image of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan. — Instagram/imrankhan.pti

KARACHI: The IHC order has clarified Imran Khan’s misrepresentation of facts in his interview with the BBC, when he said that he had protective bail until March 18 and that arresting him before was ‘the law of the jungle’, says lawyer Reema Omer, legal adviser for the International Commission of Jurists.

Referring to the IHC order on Wednesday regarding the police action in Zaman park and the ensuing clashes there, Reema Omer has tweeted that c

She adds that Imran’s “defiance of lawful orders [is] contrary to the rule of law.” She says that Imran has to now “approach the trial court for suspension of non-bailable arrest warrants” and if the trial court “is ‘satisfied in all respects’, it may accept [Imran’s] undertaking and surety” but adds that the trial court is “not bound to do so”.

Other lawyers too have weighed in, offering a different take on the IHC order. Supreme Court advocate Salman Raja calls the IHC order “balanced”, and says it “should result in a recall by the trial court of the warrants against Mr Imran Khan”.

Calling for “sanity” to prevail, Raja explains that the IHC “has directed the trial court to take into account the undertaking dated March 15, 2023 on behalf of Mr Imran Khan that he would appear before the trial court on March 18 and to decide any application that may be filed by Mr Imran Khan before it for suspension of the non-bailable warrants keeping in view the undertaking to appear. The trial court is to satisfy itself with respect to the sureties offered in support of the undertaking.”

Lawyer Abdul Moiz Jaferii, however, feels: “This is yet another example of Imran Khan promising something to the Islamabad High Court, not delivering on it and then embarrassing the court, followed by inexplicably getting even more from the court.”

Jaferii says the IHC gave “Imran extraordinary relief by suspending warrants of a trial court where he was not appearing, on the premise that he had promised them that he would appear by a certain date.”

He says that when Imran did not appear, it “would have been enough for any normal person’s second petition for intervention into a court process to be dismissed with costs.” But in the case of Imran, “the IHC has lamented the fact that it is sad what is happening in Lahore and that court summons must be respected. And yet gone on to state that [Imran’s] latest promise of appearing in court backed by a lawyer’s surety is some form of a new development which the trial court should consider.”

Jaferii calls this “a do-over of a do-over—promised to a person who is wilfully flouting the law by disregarding the summons of a court.”

For Jaferii: “This isn’t about the government, the ECP or the frivolous nature of their allegations against Imran Khan. All of that could have been stated in court. By refusing to go to court in the first place, Imran is making a mockery of the courts and the legal process. He is not exposing the government’s weak and blatantly political designs, he is exposing the judiciary as being unable to execute its warrants. This exposure is unnecessary and will earn Imran Khan a reputational discredit with every court he appears before.”

For Lahore-based lawyer Salman Chima, “the most remarkable feature of the IHC proceedings is that Imran even felt entitled to go back to the IHC to seek relief, having treated the earlier concession extended by the court with such contempt.”

Chima concurs with Salman Raja’s reading, though, that “the IHC order is measured and reasonable and leaves the door open for the trial court to extend suitable relief to Imran.”

High court advocate Abuzar Salman Khan Niazi also clarifies that the IHC “has not suspended the arrest warrants, it has left [it] to the discretion of the trial judge.” But he does feel that the court has “in some way indirectly directed the trial judge to consider a fresh affidavit of Imran guaranteeing appearance on March 18.”

Niazi feels that the trial judge “will be obligated to consider it and give Imran time till March 18” since “at the end of the day, the warrants are for procuring attendance not sending [Imran] to jail.”

Journalist and lawyer Muneeb Farooq is unequivocal in his summation of the matter: “The IHC could never have given [Imran] another relief because such relief has already been exhausted [as far as the IHC goes].”

He explains that the IHC has now disposed of the matter and sent it to the sessions court and “now it’s at the discretion of the trial court”.

He refers to CrPC Section 76, which “clearly says that it is the discretion of the court: if it is satisfied that it approves of the security provided [by the PTI] then the non-bailable arrest warrant can be suspended or cancelled”.

He reiterates though that “the trial/sessions court is not at all obligated to do anything”. [The matter] is now “again in the domain of the sessions court and Imran’s lawyers will really have to convince the judge that they will not flout the order of the court again”.

Clarifying the nature of the warrant and the police attempts to arrest Imran, Farooq says, “The non-bailable arrest warrant is a lawful thing. The police were bound to act on it as was the state”.

He adds to Reema Omer’s analysis that “Imran Khan has been misrepresenting the fact that he had protective bail till March 18” when in fact “he never had protective bail in this particular case...This was a misrepresentation not only by him but also by his first-tier leadership. They have been telling a lie in broad daylight”.