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Sunday February 25, 2024

IHC dismisses Qureshi’s bail plea in cipher case

November 16, 2023
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi addresses a press conference on June 6, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/ Hum News live
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi addresses a press conference on June 6, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/ Hum News live 

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday dismissed the bail application filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case, directing the special court hearing the matter to conclude the trial within four weeks.

In the meantime, the court also disposed of the PTI leader’s plea against his indictment and prison trial, observing that the meaning of a jail trial was not an in-camera proceeding, but a hearing open for all. It directed the authorities to ensure arrangements for conducting a fair and open trial in the case.

Issuing the detailed judgment on Qureshi’s bail application, IHC Chief Justice (CJ) Aamer Farooq said that the prosecution alleged that the cipher conspiracy was hatched in Bani Gala for political gains and the plaintiff abetted the main accused, PTI chairman Imran Khan, for which he could face a maximum punishment up to death sentence. The judge noted that the bail application had been dismissed for lacking merit.

Regarding the jail trial, the IHC CJ observed that under Section 531 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, no court proceeding could be set aside on the account that it was conducted at a wrong place, unless the failure of justice was proved.

He ordered the government and jail officials to ensure that dignity of the petitioner and co-accused was not violated in any manner, directing the authorities to accommodate a maximum number of people to witness the trial in an open and fair way, keeping in view the security.

He observed that the immunity claimed by Qureshi under Article 248 of the Constitution could not be extended to him in the cipher case, because it was only applicable to criminal allegations levelled during the discharge of official duty by a government employee or representative.

The judge remarked that Khan was the leader of a major political party, and the cipher trial was being conducted in prison for his security. It said that even the PTI leader’s family had raised similar concerns for him, adding that producing the accused outside of jail for each hearing could create an issue.