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Monday June 17, 2024

Imran gets extraordinary relief in nine cases from IHC

Imran Khan was bestowed every possible relief he asked for by different benches of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) here on Friday

By Obaid Abrar Khan
May 13, 2023
PTI chief Imran Khan arrives back at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore on May 13, 2023. Screengrab of a Twitter/MusaNV18 video.
PTI chief Imran Khan arrives back at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore on May 13, 2023. Screengrab of a Twitter/MusaNV18 video.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan was bestowed every possible relief he asked for by different benches of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) here on Friday. 

He got relief from the court when the authorities were barred from arresting him in any case till Monday, May 15. On the direction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the former premier appeared in the IHC to get pre-arrest bail in cases registered against him.

In the first relief, an IHC divisional bench granted two-week bail to the PTI chairman in Al-Qadir Trust case and later the court barred the authorities from arresting him till May 17 in any new case filed against him after May 9.

Later, Imran Khan sought transitory bail in four other cases, lodged against him in Lahore, in which the court awarded him bail till May 22. In the PTI activist Zille Shah murder case, another bench barred the authorities from arresting him till the morning of May 15, while hearing a petition filed for bail in three terrorism cases.

The PTI chief, who used to appear in courts on a wheelchair before May 9, on Friday appeared in the IHC wearing light blue shalwar kameez with a dark blue waistcoat, under tight security like a celebrity.

A two-member bench, headed by Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, and comprising Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, while hearing the petition seeking transitory bail in three terrorism cases, directed Khan’s lawyer to assist the court only in the cases related to him.

The lawyer then pleaded with the court to grant his client protection in all the cases filed against him since May 9. “The government machinery is being misused,” the lawyer said.

In response, the judge presiding over the hearing said the incumbent government had a case registered against former interior minister Sheikh Rashid, a resident of Rawalpindi, in North Waziristan’s Baka Khel.

However, he also noted that the PTI government had registered similar cases against Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz leader Javed Latif and others.

Then, the court granted bail to Khan and issued orders that he should not be arrested in the “cases that he has no knowledge of” till Monday morning.

A single-member bench, headed by Justice Jahangiri, heard the bail petition in the Zille Shah murder case, and after the hearing started, it was adjourned for a brief period. Once the hearing began, Khan’s lawyer Salman Safdar said cases were lodged against his client in Lahore after he was arrested on May 9. He appealed to the court to grant his client transitory bail for approaching the relevant court.

After hearing the arguments, Justice Jahangiri granted bail to the PTI chief till May 22.

A two-member special division bench, comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz, heard the bail plea in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

At the outset of the hearing, which began after an hour-long delay, the bench expressed its displeasure after lawyers chanted slogans in favour of the former prime minister. The courtroom staff tried to stop the chanting; however, they failed to do so. Justice Aurangzeb said that this was “unacceptable”.

Subsequently, the hearing was briefly adjourned for a break for Friday prayers. When the hearing resumed, Khan’s lawyer Khawaja Haris presented the PTI chief’s pre-arrest and protective bail applications. “We have asked for a copy of the inquiry report in another application,” he said, adding that NAB should be ordered to provide a copy of the inquiry report.

Haris said that they had found out about the anti-graft watchdog’s inquiry report from a newspaper, adding that arrest warrants could be issued only if an inquiry turns into an investigation. “The reason mentioned in the arrest warrants stated that Khan did not appear before NAB despite repeated notices; however, as soon as the investigation started, an attempt was made to arrest him,” he said.

The lawyer informed the court that the inquiry had been converted into an investigation in April and that replies to two call-up notices had been submitted. He then pointed out the legal flaws of the call-up notices and asked that it is important to state in what capacity the person concerned had been called as a witness or as an accused.

In response to a question by Justice Aurangzeb, Haris said he had not visited the NAB office because the call-up notice was illegal. He then concluded his arguments, saying that he had raised objections in a detailed reply, subsequent to which no further notice was received.

After that, Islamabad Advocate General Barrister Jahangir Jadoon presented his arguments before the court. The advocate general defended the government’s decision to bring in the army citing the rising violence in the province, following Khan’s arrest. He also added that there was no solid reason to bring the matter to the high court in the writ petition. Justice Aurangzeb said: “Has martial law been imposed here that we stop hearing all applications?”

Addressing the claims made by Khan’s lawyers, NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi revealed that the inquiry had started in July after which a call-up notice was issued. Khan never appeared for the inquiry, he said, adding that notices had also been served on a business tycoon, Zulfi Bukhari, and others. “Mian Muhammad Soomro, Faisal Vawda and others who joined the inquiry were also served notices,” he claimed.

After hearing the arguments of both sides, the two-member bench announced its verdict of granting bail to Khan for two weeks.

Speaking to the media during the hearing break, Khan’s lawyer Babar Awan clarified that the lawyers who started chanting slogans were not related to the PTI.” He then asked: “Why would someone who wants elections, create trouble in the country?”

Awan expressed concerns about another arrest of the PTI chairman and said: “The Punjab Police have especially been called to Islamabad. Why the government wants to arrest Imran Khan?”

The lawyer added that if the Punjab Police arrested Khan again, it would be unconstitutional.

Hundreds of police and paramilitary troops were deployed around the high court and the surrounding area, which was blocked for traffic.

PTI lawyers were present at the rear gate of the IHC, while Rangers personnel stood outside the court’s building and Islamabad Police were deployed inside the premises.

The IHC Friday issued a stay order on the indictment of PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case against him. He was indicted in the case on Wednesday, a day after he was arrested in the Al-Qadir Trust case from IHC premises. Chief Justice IHC Justice Aamer Farooq conducted the hearing.

During the hearing, Imran Khan’s lawyer Khawaja Haris, in his arguments before the court, said the Election Commission of Pakistan did not forward a complaint against his client as per law. Complaints cannot be moved forward after the end of the deadline, he added.

The IHC CJ asked Khawaja Haris, “What did the session judge hearing the case say on reservations raised by you?”

The judge said, “We will see the matter during the recording of the statements in the case” and added the case was not admissible for hearing.

After hearing arguments from Imran Khan’s lawyer, the IHC CJ issued a stay order on the indictment and ordered the sessions court to halt the criminal proceedings in the Toshakhana case against Imran Khan and issued notices to respondents in the case.

During the first session, Khan, in response to a reporter’s question on whether he was allowed to use a phone during his arrest or not, said: “NAB officials allowed me to talk to my wife via landline.” The reporter then cross-questioned why Khan contacted Musarrat Cheema when he was given the phone to talk to his wife. Khan clarified that he could not contact his wife.

A reporter asked whether he had expected to be arrested, to which Khan replied: “I was 100pc certain that I would be arrested.”