Thursday July 18, 2024

Trial court ordered to re-hear Imran’s bail pleas in nine cases

It may be mentioned here Additional District and Session Court dismissed interim bail petitions of Khan in 6 cases

By Awais Yousafzai & Khalid Iqbal & News Desk
October 03, 2023
In this picture released on August 2, 2023 shows PTI’s Chairman Imran Khan speaking in front of the camera in Zaman Park Lahore. — Faceook/Imran Khan
In this picture released on August 2, 2023 shows PTI’s Chairman Imran Khan speaking in front of the camera in Zaman Park Lahore. — Faceook/Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday also dismissed the decision of the trial court to terminate the pre-arrest bails of PTI’s Chairman in nine cases on the basis of non-pursuance.

A two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri announced the verdict on the appeal of the PTI chairman. The court said the bail petitions would be considered as pending and the trial court would take a decision after hearing them again. The PTI’s legal team had challenged the verdict in IHC.

It may be mentioned here Additional District and Session Court dismissed the interim bail petitions of PTI’s head in six cases, while the Anti-Terrorism Court terminated three bail petitions due to non-pursuance after his arrest in the Toshakhana case. The cases were connected with the incidents of May 3, violation of section 144 and protests in the capital.

Meanwhile, the IHC reserved its verdict on the FIA petition seeking an in-camera hearing on the bail petition of chairman PTI in the cipher case. Chief Justice Aamer Farooq heard the post-arrest bail plea of Chairman PTI and FIA’s case for an in-camera hearing together.

Special Prosecutor FIA Shah Khawar Advocate adopted the stance that the trial of an accused under the Official Secrets Act could not be conducted openly. He said that the hearing on the bail petition could also be done in-camera as the prosecution had to present some sensitive material before the court. The prosecutor said that an open hearing in this case could affect diplomatic relations with some countries.

The chief justice asked the lawyer to tell the code of conduct in cases under the Official Secrets Act. Pointing out the code of conduct, Additional Attorney General Munawar said that every country had separate codes for messaging. Shahkhawar Advocate said that the cipher was a secret document, which was kept secret. The ciphers used to be sent through fax or e-mails in coded form and they were de-coded by the foreign office to understand. The foreign office was the actual home of ciphers, he said. PTI Chairman’s Lawyer Barrister Salman opposed the request of FIA and argued that if the prosecution’s accusation is valid and the cypher is already public then what secrecy is being sought to protect through an in-camera hearing request. After hearing arguments, the bench reserved a verdict on the application of FIA and adjourned this day’s hearing. In a related development, the Official Secrets Act Court, Islamabad Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain issued notices for October 4 to former prime minister Imran Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case. The judge directed the superintendent of Adiala jail to present the PTI leaders before the court on October 4 (tomorrow). The development came as the court officially began hearing the case following the submission of the Federal Investigation Agency’s challan, naming the two PTI leaders as accused.

Earlier last week, the FIA claimed that former prime minister Imran had violated the Official Secrets Act, 1923 by unlawfully keeping a diplomatic cipher in his possession, and therefore deserves to be punished under the law. In its charge sheet, submitted to a special court two days ago, the agency also accused Qureshi of facilitating Imran while also mentioning his March 27, 2022 speech at a public rally in Islamabad. Declaring both of them guilty of violating the Official Secrets Act, the FIA requested the special court judge to try the top PTI leaders and punish them. The FIA did not include PTI former secretary general Asad Umar among the accused. The document also includes transcripts of the speeches that Imran and Qureshi delivered at the March 27, 2022 rally. Additionally, the FIA has also submitted a list of 28 witnesses to the court, with statements of 27 of them attached to the challan.

The witnesses include former foreign secretaries Asad Majeed, and Sohail Mehmood as well as Additional Foreign Secretary Faisal Niaz Timrizi. Imran’s former principal secretary Azam Khan has been named as a witness and his testimony under Sections 161 and 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is attached to the charge sheet.

According to sources, copies of the charge sheet are likely to be provided to Imran and Qureshi at the next court hearing. The court will indict the accused afterwards. Responding to the charge sheet, the PTI spokesperson “unequivocally rejected the FIA charges, terming the document as “devoid of substance”. He asserted that the allegations were “as hollow as the purported cipher case itself”.