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Monday June 24, 2024

£190m reference: IHC approves Imran’s bail plea

IHC approved Imran Khan’s bail petition in the £190 million National Crime Agency (NCA) settlement reference

By Awais Yousafzai & Khalid Iqbal
May 16, 2024
PTI founder Imran Khan being escorted by the police at a court in Pakistan. — AFP/File
PTI founder Imran Khan being escorted by the police at a court in Pakistan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday approved Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan’s bail petition in the £190 million National Crime Agency (NCA) settlement reference.

A two-member bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, had reserved the verdict on the bail petition a day earlier after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Amjad Parvez concluded his arguments.

In December last year, the NAB filed a £190 million NCA reference against Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi and others. The other accused named in the reference are Farhat Shezadi (Farah Gogi), Mirza Shehzad Akbar, Zulfi Bukhari and others. In the reference, the NAB Rawalpindi said that accused persons in connivance with each other have committed the offence of corruption and corrupt practices as defined and punishable under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

The IHC, its short order on Wednesday, ordered the authorities to release the PTI founder against the surety bond of Rs1 million. The court announced the short verdict in an open court verbally, however, the detailed order will be issued later.

Imran has been behind bars since August last year after he was sentenced in the Toshakhana case and subsequently convicted in other cases as well, including cipher and illegal marriage cases. Owing to his conviction in other cases, the former premier will remain behind bars despite securing relief in the £190 million reference.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders were granted bail on Wednesday in the May 9 riot cases. PTI leaders Shibli Faraz, Raja Basharat, Zartaj Gul, Zain Qureshi and others appeared before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi, seeking bail in the cases registered against them following the May 9 protests. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur’s plea for a one-day exemption from court appearance was approved.

The ATC, while granting bail to Shibli Faraz, Raja Basharat, Zartaj Gul, Zain Qureshi, and other PTI leaders until May 29, announced that the next hearing would be held in Adiala jail. Judge Natasha Naseem Supra of the ATC heard the case and outlined the charges against each of the accused, who were identified as workers affiliated with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Meanwhile, Judicial Magistrate Islamabad Suhaib Bilal acquitted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan in two cases pertaining to May 9 vandalism. The court approved the former prime minister’s plea challenging the cases. The cases against Khan were filed at the Khanna Police Station in the federal capital. Khan’s acquittal plea was approved by the court due to insufficient evidence in the cases against him. The cases were registered against the PTI founder in 2022 for the long march and violation of Article 144.

Separately, Judicial Magistrate Islamabad Sohail Thaheem reserved judgment on PTI leaders’ pleas for acquittal in cases registered over violation of Section 144 during the party’s Azadi March. The verdict on the acquittal petition of PTI founder Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Sadaqat Abbasi, Saifullah Niazi, Faisal Javed and Ali Nawaz Awan would be pronounced on June 27.

During the hearing, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad appeared in the court along with his lawyer Sardar Shehbaz. Naeem Panjhotha said, “I have appeared on behalf of founder PTI, and will give arguments on the plea of his acquittal.” The person concerned did not file a complaint for violation of Section 144. After hearing arguments, the court reserved the decision, which will be pronounced on June 27. The case has been registered against the accused in Aabpara police station.