ISLAMABAD, (MANEND NEWS): The Islamabad High Court on Friday stopped the authorities from arresting PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan in any case, including undisclosed ones, filed against him anywhere in the country till May 15 (Monday).
The IHC bench also granted protective bail to him in three terrorism cases filed against him in Lahore and the murder case of PTI activist Zillay Shah alias Ali Bilal.
Earlier in the day, a separate IHC bench granted the PTI chief interim bail for two weeks in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
The development comes a day after the Supreme Court termed his arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case as “invalid and unlawful”.
On Tuesday this week, dozens of troops of paramilitary Rangers broke into an office of the IHC and whisked Imran away in an armoured vehicle in a whirlwind raid while executing the arrest warrant issued against the former premier by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
IHC CJ Aamer Farooq formed a two-judge bench — comprising Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz — to hear Imran’s bail plea in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
As the hearing commenced, a lawyer stood up and chanted slogans in favour of the ousted premier. Expressing its displeasure, the division bench noted that there should be complete silence, with Justice Miangul warning that the case would not be heard if such acts continued.
The court then took a break for Friday prayers.
When the hearing resumed, Imran stood up and requested everyone to listen to the proceedings quietly.
He alleged that an individual “had been planted” to disrupt the proceedings earlier.
Reacting to his remark, Advocate General Islamabad Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon raised an objection and questioned why the PTI chief was levelling allegations.
“Jadoon sb, I am sorry but I did not say anything about you,” replied Imran.
Khwaja Haris, representing the PTI chief, came to the rostrum and said his client had written to NAB for a copy of the inquiry in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
“We came to know through the media that the inquiry has been converted into an investigation,” Haris maintained.
The lawyer added that the manner in which the inquiry was converted into an investigation, the aim was to “arrest Imran immediately”.
Haris continued that NAB could convert an inquiry into an investigation only if there was sufficient evidence.
“A notice was sent to me on March 2 to which I replied,” he said, adding that in his response, he informed the anti-graft body that the notice was not sent as per the requirements of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.
Haris further argued that NAB had to inform the individual whether the summons was as an accused or as a witness.
He added that if a person had been summoned as an accused, the bureau was supposed to explain the charges.
The court then inquired if NAB had sent a questionnaire to the PTI counsel.
To this, Haris replied that he had not received a questionnaire.
However, he told the bench that had sought further information.
He added that in the Toshakhana (gift depository) case, a notice was sent to him in the same manner and he had challenged it in the same court.
“This court declared these notices illegal,” said Haris.
The lawyer maintained that Imran was arrested, and an inquiry report was provided later.
However, on April 28, the inquiry was converted into an investigation.
Advocate General Islamabad Jadoon then commenced his arguments and said that he would not discuss the merits of the case, but read Article 245 of the Constitution instead.
“The high court cannot hear a case in an area where the army has been summoned under Article 245,” he added.
Expressing its displeasure, the bench asked the AG Islamabad if the court should do away with all writ petitions because of Article 245.
Justice Aurangzeb then questioned if martial law had been imposed.
To this, Jadoon replied the army was called to aid in the restoration of law and order following violent protests.
The court then summoned NAB Prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi to the rostrum.
Abbasi informed the bench that Imran had never appeared before the bureau.
The NAB prosecutor further informed the court that former accountability czar Shahzad Akbar was also sent a notice but he did not join the inquiry.
The court then granted the PTI chief two weeks interim bail and barred NAB from arresting him.
The NAB prosecutor tried to talk further but was told by Justice Aurangzeb to remain quiet as the court had announced the order.
The court in its order also stated that the ousted premier should not be arrested in any case, registered in Islamabad after May 9, till May 17.
It also said that it would decide whether the PTI chief’s bail should be cancelled or extended at the next hearing.
Later, IHC’s Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri granted Imran protective bail in three terrorism cases filed against him in Lahore for 11 days against surety bonds worth Rs50,000 each.
Justice Jahangiri also granted protective bail to the PTI chief in the murder case of Zillay Shah – a PTI activist who was killed during a party rally in Lahore earlier this year — against surety bonds worth Rs50,000 until May 22.
The judge barred the police from arresting the ousted premier and directed him to appear in the relevant court in Lahore after a period of 11 days.
The IHC also halted the proceedings of the Toshakhana case against Imran in the trial court till June 8.
IHC CJ Farooq heard the case filed by the former prime minister in this connection.
At the outset of the hearing, Imran lawyer Haris argued that the complaint was filed in the trial court by an unauthorised authority.
The case was filed by the district election commissioner while the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had not authorised anyone to file the case.
Therefore, Haris contended that the case was not maintainable.
The IHC CJ asked him whether or not there were more identical applications against the interim order and if the instant case should be heard as the main one.
Haris replied the PTI legal team had also raised the objection that the matter should be heard first by a magistrate.
After hearing the arguments, the court halted the proceedings in the Toshakhana case till June 8 and adjourned the hearing.
The trial court has already indicted Imran in the Toshakhana case. The ECP had disqualified the former prime minister for not disclosing the details of gifts retained from the Toshakhana and a criminal case was lodged against him before a lower court.
During the recess, Imran told the media that this was his country and people, as he advised them to remain peaceful.
He assured the media that he had obtained bail “in all cases” and could not be arrested.
The former prime minister further said he had full confidence in the chief justice of Pakistan.
Recalling his arrest earlier this week, the PTI chief said he was assaulted with a baton but maintained that NAB’s “behaviour was fine” during his detention.
“I had warned of a reaction,” said Imran referring to his arrest. “How can I be held responsible [for the violence] if I was under custody,” he added.
Elaborating further, the PTI chief said he was inside the premises of the IHC when he was rounded up and “they [Rangers personnel] had no justification” for the act.
Imran maintained that he was “abducted” and was shown the warrant for his arrest while in custody. “This is the law of the jungle,” he continued.
It looks as if martial law has been declared,” said the former premier.
“Who will control the people if I am imprisoned? If I remain outside, I will be able to control the people,” Imran maintained.
Prior to the start of the hearing, the PTI chief said that he could be arrested again, adding that he was allowed to talk to his wife Bushra Bibi.
When asked for confirmation that he had reached a ‘deal’, Imran smiled but stayed silent.
The former premier reached the IHC amid tight security. On his arrival, a large number of lawyers gathered outside the IHC premises and raised slogans in support of the PTI chief.
The hearing in Courtroom No. 1 commenced after the premises were checked by the Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) and cleared by security officials.
Imran’s counsel, Babar Awan, talking with the media outside the IHC, said that the PTI chief’s “life is in danger”.
He maintained that there were certain people who feared that if Imran was released, their jobs would be at risk. “That is why the Punjab police have come from Lahore,” he added.
The PTI chief finally left the IHC premises for his Zaman Park residence in Lahore following hours-long delay because of “security concerns”.
The deposed premier faced an unexpected delay in his departure from the IHC as shelling outside the court’s premises created a tense atmosphere.
However, Imran had issued an ultimatum to the administration, demanding the immediate clearance of the route.
Inside the courtroom, the Director General of Security approached Imran and informed him about the ongoing shelling on Srinagar Highway, emphasising that the route was not safe for him to leave at that moment. The DIG security requested the PTI chief to remain inside the court for his own safety.
In response to the warning, Imran Khan expressed his view, saying: “If you take me out, the intensity of the shelling will decrease. The longer you keep me waiting here, it will only escalate. Once the news spreads that I have left, the situation will naturally come to an end.”
As tensions rose outside the IHC, the Rangers personnel swiftly positioned themselves after the gunfire. The police reported that the protesters also resorted to throwing a petrol bomb, further escalating the already volatile situation.
Earlier, Imran had raised concerns about the presence of a significant number of Rangers personnel within the court premises. Following his objections, the paramilitary force was subsequently removed from the area.